U.S. players celebrate second place at the FIVB World Grand Prix Final on July 10, 2016 in Bangkok.
Capping a month of play at sites throughout the world, the U.S. women’s volleyball team fell to Brazil in the final match of the 2016 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Sunday in Bangkok, falling 3-2 (18-25, 25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 15-9).
Down 2-1, the Americans mounted a valiant comeback attempt in defense of their 2015 title. The U.S. used a late run sparked by a service ace from Kim Hill to claim the fourth set and draw even at 2-2, but there just wasn’t enough gas left in the tank for the deciding fifth set.
The contest was a rematch of the past two Olympic gold-medal matches, both of which saw the U.S. claim the silver medal. It could be a preview of the title pairing next month in Rio, where the host nation will attempt to match the feat of three consecutive Olympic gold medals, first achieved by Cuba in a run that was capped at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and the U.S. will aim for its first-ever Olympic gold.
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It marked the 23rd meeting of the two teams at the World Grand Prix. Brazil ran its total to 14 wins in the series, including five of the last six. The U.S. win in that run was in last year’s Grand Prix final. The American side had won the tournament four times since 2010, with Brazil reclaiming the title it last held in 2014.
The Americans had swept through the final rounds of the Grand Prix without losing a set prior to Sunday’s contest, downing the Netherlands, No. 14 in the latest world rankings, and No. 2 China in pool play before dispatching No. 4 Russia in the semifinal round.
The United States continues a run of success that has propelled it to the No. 1 ranking in the world. The string began at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, where it claimed the silver medal. Since then, the Americans have not slipped below second in the world rankings and have won six of their last eight tournaments, including the 2014 world championship, the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix and the 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament.