The United States women's volleyball team turned into one of the more entertaining stories of the London 2012 Olympics after an incredible run into the finals.
Upon entering the finals, Team USA had won 21 sets while remarkably losing only two.
The U.S. finished a 3-0 sweep of the Dominican Republic in the quarterfinals, and they exited the semifinals with yet another 3-0 sweep, over South Korea.
Brazil met the U.S. in the finals after a close encounter with Russia that ended in a 3-2 win. The Brazilians regained their form against Japan in the semifinals and won 3-0.
Korea and Japan both entered the bronze round with something to prove after both teams were swept in the semifinals.
After a 3-1 loss to Russia in the preliminary rounds, Japan was able to put together an impressive and unlikely 3-2 victory over China in the quarterfinals.
Korea lost three matches in the preliminary rounds, but victories over Brazil and Serbia sent them to the quarterfinals, where they defeated Italy, 3-1.
Bronze Match: Korea vs. Japan
Japan 25 26 25 X X
Korea 22 24 21 X X
Korea lost multiple matches during the preliminary rounds and made it as far as they did only as a result of the momentum they gained from a shocking victory over Brazil.
Their 3-1 victory over Italy was impressive, but it's clear that Japan was a far superior team talent wise.
Saori Sakoda led Japan in scoring, with 23 of the team's 76 total points.
Korea's Kim Yeon-Koung was not far behind Sakoda and finished with 22 total points, but she obviously didn't receive the same level of support from her teammates.
Korea had a chance to take over the momentum when they gained an 8-1 lead during the second set, but Japan came soaring back and eventually finished with the victory.
Japan will take home the bronze medal.
Gold Match: United States vs. Brazil
United States 25 17 20 17 X
Brazil 11 25 25 25 X
The United States entered the championship game as the clear favorites after losing only two sets throughout the entire Olympics, but Brazil offered a challenge that was too tough to handle.
All seemed well for the U.S. after it took the first set with a dominate 25-11 score, but the momentum did not last long.
The U.S. struggled to score points in the second set, putting up just 17 and falling back even to Brazil with a 25-17 loss.
The Americans had every opportunity to come back in the third set and regain their focus, but Brazil shocked them with a 25-20 victory.
At that point, Brazil obviously had the edge over a U.S. team that is not used to playing catch-up. The focus of Team USA was totally lost by the fourth set, but the determination was still there.
The U.S. managed to play better after falling behind, but the deficit was too great to overcome.
Brazil won, 25-17, and took the match, 3-1.
The Brazilians will be awarded the gold medal, while the U.S. will get a nice silver-medal consolation prize.
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