For the first time in the Tokyo Olympics the USA had a day with a losing record in volleyball.

In Friday’s beach action, American teams went 1-1, as April Ross and Alix Klineman opened play on the Shiokaze Park sand with a victory, but the bubble burst for Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne when they lost in the last match of the day. 

Indoors, the USA men lost in four to Brazil to square their record at 2-2 with one pool-play match remaining. But the Americans saw their Pool B really tighten up long after they were done.


The USA women try to stay both unbeaten Saturday and atop Pool B when they face ROC (2-1), while Italy (3-0) faces China (0-3).

Click here for Saturday’s six-match women’s schedule, which includes a match between Pool A leaders Brazil and Serbia.

On the beach, just one American pair plays when Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil try to finish pool play unbeaten when they face Brazilians Ana Patricia Silva and Rebecca Cavalcanti. 

The other USA women’s pair, Ross and Klineman, already have their spot in the knockout round and await their opponent. 

The men’s teams, Gibb-Bourne (definitely in) and Phil DalhausserNick Lucena, won’t know exactly how things shake out until Saturday’s matches are completed. Dalcena finished in a three-way tie at 2-1 in Pool D.

Click here for Saturday’s beach schedule, that includes the completion of pool play and then the start of the Lucky Losers brackets.

Alix Klineman takes the middle serve as April Ross prepares to set/Ed Chan,


Ross and Klineman went 3-0 in Pool B, capped with their 20-22, 21-17, 15-5 victory in the rain over Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink of the Netherlands. 

“I just felt like, defensively we weren’t getting that many stops. April’s siding out really well but it put a lot of pressure on her to side out perfectly, and that’s not the way that we want to play,” Klineman said. “Part way through the second set our serving got a little tougher and we started making some adjustments on defense and we got a few breaks and the tide started to turn a little bit.”

The tough-luck Dutch pair went winless after losing all three of their matches in three. 

Also in Pool B, Xinxin Wang and Chen Xue of China blasted Spain’s Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez 21-13, 21-10. 

The Chinese pair (2-1) will advance, but have to wait until Saturday to see where they end up. The pair from Spain has to hope for the best at 1-2. 

Gibb and Bourne dropped to 2-1 after falling to medal favorites Cherif Samba and Ahmed Tijan of Qatar 21-18, 21-17, who went 3-0 in Pool C. Also in Pool C on Friday, the Swiss pair of Mirco Gerson and Adrian Heidrich got their first victory when they beat winless Italians Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi.

Also Friday, Evandro Goncalves and Bruno Oscar Schmidt won Pool E at 3-0 when they went three to beat Poland’s Michal Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek (2-1) 19-21, 21-14, 17-15.

Click here for the complete list of Friday’s beach results.

Micah Christenson is there for the Brazil tip/Ed Chan,


Brazil had all it could handle in beating the USA men 30-32, 25-23, 25-21, 25-20.

In the last match of the day, that didn’t finish well into Saturday morning, France upset ROC in four sets. It left ROC tied with Brazil atop the pool at 3-1, while France jumped into a tie with the USA and Argentina at 2-2. Now, only Tunisia is out of it heading into Sunday end of pool play with everything on the line when the Americans play Argentina.

“The Olympics is not very forgiving. We beat France convincingly in our opening match and in the blink of an eye we lose two and now our backs are against the wall,” USA coach John Speraw said.

Against Brazil, veteran opposite Matt Anderson had a big-time match, leading with 20 kills while hitting .500 after having just four errors in 32 attacks. He also had 11 digs and a block.

“We were serving and passing without hesitation early on. We were playing freely. We shut down their runs. As the match progressed, we didn’t execute the game plan,” Anderson said.

“They made some great touches. And we weren’t as aggressive on the serve, especially down the stretch. Giving teams free balls is not the way to win the Olympics.”

TJ DeFalco had 19 kills and hit .307 to go with five blocks and an ace, and the other outside, Taylor Sander, had 16 kills and hit .387 to go with two aces and four digs.

Middle Max Holt had seven kills with one error in 11 swings to go with three digs, and two blocks, and counterpart Mitch Stahl had six kills. Another middle, David Smith, had two kills in as many attacks.

Setter Micah Christenson had 59 assists, two digs, and two blocks. Erik Shoji had six digs and two assists.

“We need to do a better job executing the game plan and taking advantage of opportunities, which we had even in the fourth set,” Speraw said. “We lost the serve-and-pass battle. They had a lot of aces and we had a lot of errors, yet we were right there until the end. 

“We simply need to play better.”

Brazil, coming off a tough loss to ROC, got 15 kills apiece from Yoandy Leal Hidalgo, Lucarelli Souza Ricardo, and Wallace De Souza.

“Our strategy was poor against ROC and that is my responsibility,” Brazil coach Renan Dal Zotto said. “Today our serve was really accurate and because of that our block worked well in the last three sets.”

Click here for all of Friday’s men’s results.

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Ahmed Tijan
Ahmed Tijan of Qatar runs down a cut shot against Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne/Ed Chan,



  1. Good wrap, Lee. Thanks for the report.

    The indoor men’s matches are all about serving. It’s easy to agree with Coach Speraw that the USA guys need to play better; mainly they need to serve better — much better — especially at the ends of sets. I read that hey missed 13 more serves than Brazil in that four-set loss, and those accurate Brazilian serves, aimed right at our less-confident passers, knocked the Americans on their heels. Serving won the match. In fact, serving is winning almost every men’s match in Tokyo. If you saw Poland’s Wilfredo Leon (the former Cuban) rifle five straight winners to come from behind against Canada in their second set, you saw what wins.

    Matt’s comment is right in line with that when he said teams need to launch tough jump serves to win. I like his resolve. But he might be reminded that the Americans’ 32-30 win in the first set came on Micah’s sharp floater that ate up the passer. Mixing it up can win, too. Our guys can vary their serves more without giving away any more points. They couldn’t give away many more than they did against ROC and Brazil with missed jump serves. Pressure can take its toll.

    Serve some short, flat balls like the Russians did at crucial moments against the USA. Those worked all too well. Pop some knucklers to back up the hitters. Passers are feeling pressure too. Make ’em move. Matt is the one American who is ripping serves for points. He will keep doing it, and some teammates can relax and find their grooves, too.

    Odd things happen at the Olympics. Nerves restrict. Creativity releases. Serve with joy, guys — and look for that overpass.


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