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U.S. men’s volleyball team qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

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The U.S. men’s volleyball team is going to a 10th straight Olympics, beating the host Netherlands 25-18, 25-20, 17-25, 25-21 on Sunday to win its qualification tournament.

The Americans, led by coach John Speraw, are an Olympic medal contender. They took bronze at the Rio Games and the lone world championship tournament in this Olympic cycle in 2018, moving to No. 2 in the world rankings behind Brazil.

The Tokyo roster will be the first without ties to the 2008 Olympic champion team that was guided by Hugh McCutcheon. The last links — Reid Priddy and David Lee — moved to beach volleyball after Rio.

The most experienced player on the current roster is opposite Matt Anderson, a two-time Olympian and five-time U.S. Player of the Year. Micah Christenson was named best setter of the 2018 World Championship. Outside hitter Aaron Russell starred against the Dutch on Sunday.

At worlds, the U.S. blew a two sets-to-one semifinal lead over Italy but overcame a 2-0 deficit to down Russia for bronze

VIDEO: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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Russia volleyball coach’s eye gesture draws criticism

Russia women's volleyball team
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A Russia women’s volleyball assistant coach is being looked at by the sport’s international governing body after a photo surfaced of him appearing to use his fingers to make his eyes look more Japanese, moments after the team qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

Sergio Busato, an Italian-born assistant coach for Russia’s national team, made the gesture after his team beat South Korea to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games, according to Russian media.

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) confirmed Thursday that it received a complaint, reportedly from South Korea’s federation, and that it is investigating the matter.

“The FIVB is aware of this matter and notes that the Russian Volleyball Federation immediately took steps to get the picture taken down by various sites as the image does not reflect their views or values,” the FIVB said in a statement. “It is important to stress that the FIVB does not approve of any such culturally insensitive gestures, even if there was no intention to offend,” it said in a statement.

Busato said he was surprised that the gesture was received as offensive, according to RIA Novosti, noting that when Russia qualified for the Rio Olympics, he did a samba dance in celebration.

In 2008, Spanish men’s basketball players apologized after a photo of the team making the same gesture was published for the Beijing Olympics. In 2011, Brazilian swimmer Cesar Cielo made the gesture at the world championships in Shanghai.

VIDEO: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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U.S. women’s volleyball team qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

U.S. women's volleyball team
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The U.S. women’s volleyball team, on the brink of being forced to a last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament fewer than 24 hours ago, breezed into the Tokyo 2020 field by completing its sweep through an intercontinental qualifying tournament Sunday.

The Americans, ranked third in the world, beat No. 11 Argentina 25-22, 25-17, 25-13 to close out the event in Bossier City, La., where the top nation from a group of four qualified for the Olympics.

The U.S., the only top-10 team in this field, was in real danger of not winning the group on Saturday. It trailed 16th-ranked Bulgaria two sets to one before rallying to win the last two sets.

Now the U.S. will compete in its 10th straight Olympics since the 1980 Moscow Games boycott. A new potential star emerged against Bulgaria — opposite Jordan Thompson, a rising University of Cincinnati senior who came off the bench and started the last four sets, totaling 18 kills.

The U.S. women, coached by Olympic indoor and beach champ Karch Kiraly, are seeking the program’s first Olympic title. They took bronze in Rio, entering those Games as the reigning world champions.

The U.S. took fifth at worlds last year and now sits behind Serbia and China in the world rankings.

VIDEO: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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