Americans bounced back two days after a loss to Serbia to beat the Netherlands 25-23, 25-27, 25-22, 25-19.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Before they took the court and won bronze, they gathered in the locker room one final time. Each player on the U.S. women’s volleyball took a turn to speak.
Just by stepping on the court Saturday, Foluke Akinradewo showed how this squad stuck together. She returned from an injury to her left leg that forced her out early in the semifinal loss to Serbia. The star middle blocker took charge as the top-ranked Americans bounced back two days later to beat the Netherlands 25-23, 25-27, 25-22, 25-19 on Saturday.
Reserve setter Courtney Thompson, the former Kentlake High School and University of Washington star who was the Americans’ inspirational motivator, announced immediately after the match that her volleyball days are done.
“I have a whole new respect for everyone that wins a bronze medal,” Thompson said. “It’s not easy, 48 hours later.”
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This group leaves the Olympics again without the big prize. The last three Games went this way: Beijing 2008, silver; London 2012, silver; and Rio de Janeiro 2016, bronze.
“Our team dealt with some real pain and heartache, heartbreak, a couple of days ago,” said coach Karch Kiraly. “I’m incredibly proud of how within hours they were preparing, carrying that heartbreak, but preparing to be good and to finish strong. I also never had any understanding of how good a bronze medal could feel, and it feels incredible right now. We’re so happy to finish this tournament on this note.”