The United States Men's National Volleyball Team booked their ticket to their eighth consecutive Olympics May 12 with a big win over Canada in the NORCECA tournament being played in Long Beach, California. Only the winning team in the tourney earned an Olympic berth, so the advancing team wasn't known until the final was completed.
The scoreline read 28-26, 25-18, 25-20 to take the match in straight sets. Just as telling as to the dominant level of play, the U.S. 47-37 advantage in attack points, and were better at blocks by 11-5.
A good start the key
The squad started strong, getting a 4-1 lead before Canada surged back and got the score level at 10-10. With the home crowd strong behind them, the U.S. men battled back-and-forth until they got their first set point at 24-23, but didn't get it done. The sides played on to 26-26 before the U.S. team was able to get the two points over for the win.
Set two and set three weren't nearly as competitive. Canada gave their all fighting for that first set, and when it wasn't captured, some wind went out of their sails. They did hang in for the first part of the second set, but saw their fortunes fade as the match went on.
Not the last chance, but close
There will be a couple of more chances for teams to get to the Olympics, but time, and open berths, are running short. The continental qualifications like NORCECA are one of the opportunities, and the path the United States team has taken for the last four Olympic Games.
With the trip to the Olympics now a lock, the United States team can begin to focus training on playing other teams that will be in the Olympic tourney.
"I've never played in such an important match on U.S. soil with as much significance and as much support as this one," said outside hitter Reid Priddy. "Being in the twilight of my career,
The U.S. squad went through the NORCECA tournament with a 5-0 record, while second place Canada went 4-1.
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