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Olympics: American look for volleyball gold in rematch with Brazil

Published August 10, 2012 5:49 pm

Women's volleyball • First-ever gold medal on the line for American team.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

London • Logan Tom played it coy this week.

A shot at Brazil for the Olympic gold medal and a measure of revenge for the U.S. women's volleyball team. Sweet right?

"I actually never really thought about that," said Tom, who grew up in Salt Lake City. "A gold is a gold, doesn't matter who we play."

But Brazil is the team the Americans are playing Saturday at 11:30 a.m. MDT at Earls Court, which brings up a whole buffet of tasty subplots.

Brazil beat the U.S. in this same match in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics, and the teams are the top two in world rankings. However, the U.S. stole the top spot from Brazil at the end of 2011.

"Brazil's obviously an amazing team," Tom said.

However, the Brazilians showed themselves to be vulnerable in the quarterfinal round, nearly falling to Russia.

Head-to-head, things are a bit different from 2008. The U.S. has won six straight matches against the defending gold medalists, including a win in pool play of the Olympics in four games.

The U.S. seems to be at full strength. Captain and setter Lindsey Berg returned from an Achilles injury for the semifinal match against South Korea, and hitter Destinee Hooker has become an international sensation with her long, powerful arms and missile spikes.

The only issue for the U.S. is a decades-long bugaboo. Somehow, the U.S. has never won a gold medal at the Olympics in the nine summer games since the sport was introduced in 1964. Coach Hugh McCutcheon, a former BYU player and assistant coach, said the U.S. would not be distracted by the presence of history in the making.

"As far as everyone else's expectations," he said, "that's just noise. That's stuff that other people have issues with, it's certainly not our problem. ... The notion of pressure comes more from outside looking in."

And there will be plenty of people watching on Saturday.

boram@strib.com

Twitter: @oramb —

Going for the gold

• The U.S. has never won a women's volleyball gold medal.

• Highland High alumna Logan Tom is playing in her fourth Olympics.

• The Americans have not lost to Brazil in their last six matches.