The USA volleyball teams were both inches away from playing in the gold medal match, but each squad found a way to overcome their disappointment and rallied to claim the bronze.
In a wild tournament filled with monster spikes, epic rallies, brutal blocks and so much “Here Comes the Boom!” that it may be etched in memory forever, here are the top volleyball moments from the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Watch the top volleyball moments of the Rio Olympics here.
Counting Sunday’s match against Italy, Brazil has managed to reach the last four gold medal matches in men’s volleyball. But after taking gold in 2004 the Brazilians lost in both 2008 and 2012, and with this final being played on home soil there was even greater motivation to not allow that losing streak to reach three.
Brazil did just that, winning in straight sets, 25-22, 28-26, 26-24, to win their third Olympic gold medal in the sport and continue their mastery of the Italians in Olympic competition. Brazil has now won nine of the ten meetings in the Olympics, with Italy’s lone win coming in pool play in Rio.
With Ricardo Lucarelli playing through a quad injury that hampered his explosiveness, it was Wallace who led Brazil offensively with 17 kills and Lipe added seven of his own to help pick up the slack.
Ivay Zaytsev finished with 15 kills and Osmany Juantorena added 12 for Italy, which took bronze in London four years ago. The U.S. took bronze in Rio, coming back from two sets down to defeat Russia in five sets.
China is currently the third-ranked women’s volleyball team in the world, but their fourth-place finish in pool play resulted in some overlooking them in the gold medal conversation. Two wins later, the first coming over hosts Brazil, and China is one win away from their second Olympic gold medal in the sport (Beijing, 2008).
WATCH LIVE: Women’s volleyball gold medal match, China vs. Serbia — 9:15 p.m. Eastern
Standing in their way is Serbia, which upset the U.S. in the semifinals after losing to the Americans in four sets in pool play. These two teams met in pool play, with Serbia winning in straight sets, 25-19, 25-19, 25-22. China’s playing better now than they were in pool play (the same can be said of Serbia), so it’s hard to take too much from that first matchup and apply it to the final.
How much will the familiarity help China and Serbia? That’s what remains to be seen.