The United States won its way into the London 2012 Olympic Games in men’s volleyball Saturday.
A 28-26, 25-18, 25-20 victory over Canada at the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Long Beach, Calif. earned the United States its eighth straight Olympic Games appearance in the sport.
Only the winner of the eight-team event earned a spot.
The United States went 5-0 in the tournament.
The last four Olympic berths have come from wins in the same event. For the first time, the victory came at home.
“I’ve never played in such an important match on U.S. soil with as much significance and as much support as this one,” outside hitter Reid Priddy said after the victory in front of a sell-out crowd at the Pyramid. “Being in the twilight of my career, this is something I’ll remember the rest of my life.”
U.S. opposite hitter Clay Stanley was named tournament Most Valuable Player. Outside hitter Matt Anderson was selected as the best spiker and middle blocker David Lee was named best blocker.
Stanley had a team-high 15 points in the final on 12 kills, two aces and a block.
Lee and Anderson had 13 points each while Priddy had 12. Lee’s included a match-high five blocks.
“Now we can prepare for teams qualified for the Olympics and not just teams trying to qualify,” U.S. head coach Alan Knipe said.
The United States defeated Cuba, 21-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-16, in Friday’s semifinals.
The two biggest members of the team landed the final two spots at the London Olympic Games for the United States with semifinal wins Friday at the Americas Qualifier Tournament in Rio de Janeiro.
Heavyweight Michael Hunter and super heavyweight earned their Olympic berths with the Friday wins and the U.S. team kept winning the rest of the weekend.
When the tournament was over Saturday night, the United States had six medals, including three golds, from the seven-member team.
Including earlier qualifiers, the United States will have nine men’s boxers among the 10 weight classes in London. Only Australia qualified boxers in all 10 classes. Kazakhstan matches the United States with nine.
All the Olympic spots were settled before Saturday finals where the United States went on to win three of its remaining four fights.
The U.S. team had fighters in each of the final four bouts of the tournament.
Middleweight Terrell Gausha, light heavyweight Marcus Brown and Hunter all won before Breazeale was defeated.
Earlier, lightweight Jose Ramirez and light welterweight Jamel Herring won bronze medals. Only light flyweight Santos Vasquez, a loser in the first round, failed to qualify and win a medal.
Flyweight Rau’shee Warren, bantamweight Joseph Diaz Jr. and welterweight Errol Spence had already qualified.
Elsewhere, the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship, which will determine Olympic berths, got underway Friday and will continue through May 20 in Qinhuangdao, China. Lightweight Queen Underwood moved one step closer to a berth to London by winning her second bout in China. Meanwhile, Claressa Shields suffered the first loss of her six-year boxing career, but still has a shot at qualifying for the Games. Featherweight Tiara Brown and light heavyweight Franchon Crews each won their opening bouts Monday to advance in the tournament. Marlen Esparza is among the Americans who will compete Tuesday.
Hunter Kemper and Laura Bennett qualified to compete in London, pending nomination by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Kemper earned his fourth consecutive Olympic berth Saturday when he finished fifth at the ITU World Triathlon in San Diego. He completed the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run in 1:49:17.
Cuban-born Manuel Huerta gained his first Olympic spot with a ninth-place finish.
Bennett became the third U.S. woman to qualify for the London Games. She was fourth in her Olympic debut in Beijing in 2008.
USA Triathlon’s Olympic qualification criteria allowed for two men to qualify in San Diego, if they finished in the top nine.
Kemper is one of three athletes who have qualified for all four Olympic triathlons, joining Canada’s Simon Whitfield and Germany’s Anja Dittmer.
Bennett placed third Friday in 2:00:11.
Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah Groff had already qualified for two of the three U.S. women’s spots.
Sarah Haskins finished eighth Friday, which would have been good enough to qualify for the Olympic Games if the three spots had not been claimed already.
Nick Delpopolo landed the final U.S. spot in the London 2012 Olympic Games (pending nomination by the U.S. Olympic Committee) by downing Michael Eldred in a best-of-three match Saturday in Miami.
Delpopolo and Eldred had each qualified for the Olympic Games in the 73-kg division, but countries are only allowed to send one athlete per weight class so USA Judo created the “Hour of Power” match to decide the final spot on the Olympic team.
“I couldn’t feel any prouder,” said Jason Morris, an Olympic silver medalist and Delpopolo’s coach. “I am relieved the match is finally over.”
Delpopolo joins Kayla Harrison, Travis Stevens, Marti Malloy and Kyle Vashkulat on the U.S. team.
Earlier in the World Cup of Miami, Harrison won the 78-kg division with a victory over 2008 Olympic silver medalist Yalennis Castillo Ramirez of Cuba.
Hana Carmichael also won World Cup gold while Katie Sell, Bianca Lockette and Christal Ransom took second.
Jimmy Howard made 18 saves Sunday when the United States shut out Finland, 5-0, to clinch a quarterfinal spot in the IIHF Men’s World Championships at Helsinki.
The United States, which is 5-1 with one game left in pool play Tuesday against Switzerland, reached the quarterfinals for the eighth time in the last nine years.
Five different players scored against Finland.
“That’s as good of a game as we’ve played in the four years I’ve been coming over here,” said Scott Gordon, who is in his third year as head coach of the team after serving one year as an assistant. “We talked before the game about how important this game was and that every player had to contribute in some way for us to be successful.
“Our guys can be proud of beating a very good Finland team.”
Max Pacioretty scored the only goal of the first period. He has points in all six games and leads the team in scoring with two goals and eight assists.
Kyle Palmieri, Justin Faulk, Chris Butler and Bobby Ryan had the other goals.
Pacioretty, Butler and Cam Atkinson had two points each.
Faulk, a defenseman who has a team-high four goals, was named as the team’s Player of the Game.
Faulk scored twice, including the game-winner with 28 seconds left in overtime, in a 3-2 win Friday over Kazakhstan.
J.T. Brown had the other goal.
Kyle Okposo was named as the team’s Player of the Game.
The United States had a 50-19 advantage in shots, including 8-0 in overtime.
Ricky Berens, Caitlin Leverenz, Rebecca Soni and Dana Vollmer each won two gold medals at the Charlotte UltraSwim Grand Prix.
Berens won the 100-meter free in front of his hometown crowd Sunday night when Leverenz also gained her second gold. Leverenz won the women’s 200-meter medley.
Ryan Lochte picked up his first medal of the meet with a gold in the 200-meter individual medley, his sixth event of the meet. Lochte set a meet record in 1:57.63.
Soni and Vollmer gained their second wins Saturday when Michael Phelps gained his second silver. Soni won the 200 breaststroke in 2:22.22, the fastest time in the world this year.
Vollmer set a meet record in the 50 butterfly in 25.80 seconds.
Soni, Vollmer and Hardy each had both a gold and a silver medal Friday.
Vollmer set a meet record in the 200 freestyle in 1:57.38.
Berens picked up his first win by edging Phelps in the 200 freestyle.
Lia Neal captured the gold in the women’s 100 free with a time of 54.35 edging out Jessica Hardy (54.36). Natalie Coughlin rounded out the top three spots with a time of 54.59.
The final meet of the Grand Prix Series will be May 31-June 3 in Santa Clara, Calif.
TRACK AND FIELD
Allyson Felix, Walter Dix and Justin Gatlin all set meet records and established world-leading times for the year when the United States dominated the sprinting events at the Diamond League season opener in Doha, Qatar.
Felix, a two-time Olympic silver medalist in the 200 meters, ran the 100 meters in 10.92 seconds.
Dix won the 200 in 20.02.
Gatlin won the 100 in 9.87.
Elsewhere, Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Brown-Trafton set an American record of 222-3 Friday with a throw of 222-3 in the discus at the Altius TC Throwdown in Maui, Hawaii.
The second of 14 Diamond League meets is May 19 in Shanghai.
Chris Colwill won a gold medal in the 3-meter Sunday at the AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix.
The United States claimed three medals Sunday and seven total in the meet.
Kelci Bryant and Abby Johnston took silver in women’s synchronized 3-meter while Ryan Hawkins and Logan Shinholser took bronze in men’s synchronized 10-meter.
The United States earned medals in all four Saturday events.
Thomas Finchum claimed silver in men’s 10-meter and Christian Loukas bronze in women’s 3-meter.
Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen earned silver in men’s synchronized 3-meter while Amy Cozad and Laura Ryan earned bronze in women’s synchronized 10-meter.
Amber Munerlyn scored in the 21st minute off a Summer Green assist and the goal held up to give the United States a 1-0 victory over Canada in Saturday’s championship game at the CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship.