Brazil finishes strong to upset US in final
LONDON — Destinee wasn’t enough.
Brazil denied the United States its first Olympic gold medal in women’s volleyball Saturday in a 3-1 upset that had the Brazilians turning somersaults on the court and some American players sobbing.
It was the first loss for the US at the tournament and the second straight gold medal for Brazil. American star Destinee Hooker, the second-best scorer at the London Olympics, was held to 14 points.
Jaqueline Carvalho had 18 points to help Brazil overcome a disastrous first set and win, 11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.
‘‘We felt we lost control in the first set, but we never lost sight of our objectives, and that was to win gold,’’ Carvalho said. ‘‘We knew the US is a great team, that the game would be tough. But we managed to turn it around.’’
The Americans were favored and started their captain, Lindsey Berg, despite a left Achilles strain suffered earlier in the competition. She had been listed as day-to-day but promised to play in the final.
The US took an 11-4 lead on Hooker’s ace. Brazilian coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes shouted at his players to calm down during a timeout, but two straight kills from Hooker and Foluke Akinradewo’s block made it 19-7. Jordan Larson spiked for the set.
In the second set, Brazil bounced back to take an 11-6 lead on Fernanda Rodrigues’s kill, sparking a thunderous ovation from the fans at Earls Court. Logan Tom’s spike tied it at 12, but Brazil scored six straight and took the set.
The Brazilians celebrated wildly after taking a 6-2 lead in the third. The US narrowed it to 21-19 on Hooker’s kill, but it was as close as they came, and Sheilla Castro’s kill won the set.
With momentum then on the side of the Brazilians, Fabiana Claudino’s kill gave them a 13-9 lead in the fourth. Thaisa Menezes extended it to 23-14 before Rodrigues’s match-winning kill.
Castro and Claudino leapt into the official’s chair, and Brazil’s coaches rushed to pile on the other players. Later, the Brazilians danced into the medal ceremony. The bronze medal went to Japan, which defeated South Korea.
Brazil became the third team to repeat as gold medalist. The Soviet Union won in 1968 and 1972, and Cuba won three straight starting with the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Brazil won bronze in 1996 and 2000.
It was the third silver for the US women. The others were in 1984 and 2008.
‘‘I'm proud of these girls. We worked really hard, we came into this final game undefeated. You can’t get any better than that,’’ Hooker said. ‘‘I think Brazil kicked it up a notch after the first set. A wonderful win for them.’’