COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 11, 2016) – As the 2016 Olympic Volleyball Tournament hits the halfway point – pool play for beach volleyball concludes today, as the indoor volleyball tournament continues pool play until Monday – top U.S. Olympians share their thoughts on how this year's U.S. Volleyball Olympic Teams are faring.
U.S. Olympian, indoor (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008)
Olympic gold medalist, 2008
Parity!!! This Olympic Games has the most parity in volleyball that I've ever seen. There are literally six teams on the beach side that could win. There are eight teams in the indoor side that could win. That goes for both men and women!!!
Women's indoor has started to find their way. Best match of the Olympic Games for them yesterday against a good Serbian team.
It's do or die for men's indoor. We played better against Italy. They will have to lay it all out there today against Brazil. But Brazil doesn't/shouldn't scare us! We can beat them. They aren't the world beaters of years ago. But...depends on us. I look for a BIG match from Matt Anderson, Max Holt, David Lee and Micah Christenson. Go Team USA!! We KNOW you can do it!
U.S. Olympian, indoor (2008, 2012)
Olympic silver medalist, 2008, 2012
For the women's team - I love how they are improving each match, as the match progresses also, finding ways to adjust and grow in real time. Most important, I love how well they are responding to challenges and have been figuring out ways to help each other. What's standing out to me is the look in their eyes, actually. Especially Foluke Akinradewo, I've seen her at her best and I know what a dominate force she can be for this group, and she looks confident right now.
Kim Hill and Kelly Murphy have always impressed me, by their ability to make plays and how they compete with a quiet confidence that is settling to be around. Jordan Larson just looks so comfortable on the court, especially on defense, she is just reading the game so well right now. Alisha Glass has come up with some great saves and coverage on defense, and it's fun to see that happen. Those are the plays that you show you've got each other's backs! Kayla Banwarth is always a great receiver and it just looks like another day at the office for her! They are just fun to watch.
The men have their backs against the wall, and it seemed like a little baggage from the first match carried over to the start of the match with Italy. They look like they have a heavy burden on their shoulders, and when I've seen them dominating teams in the past, they smile more, they take calculated risks and let it rip when it all lines up. Not the team I feel like I've been watching for the last two summers. They did get better throughout the match with Italy. When they receive well, they can't be stopped and Micah does a nice job of keeping their middles involved, which opens things up for the pins. If they can just let go, be present enjoy the experience they have to talent and ability to beat anyone in the world.
U.S. Olympian, indoor (1988, 1992, 1996)
Olympic gold medalist, indoor, 1988; Olympic bronze medalist, indoor 1992
More than any other Olympic games, it appears there are more teams capable of winning medals at the Olympics in both indoor and beach.
Women's indoor team is responding well to the tough matches and take their cue from head coach Karch Kiraly, who remains very calm in tense situations. I really like how they have been tested with some adversity and remained consistent playing through tough times. I have been really impressed with Foluke and Rachael Adams in the middle, as they are both the most athletic blockers and attackers from the middle in the world. With the passing improving, their high efficiency attacking really opens it up for the other position players. Like how they remained serving aggressive despite some serving errors in the first two matches.
Men's indoor team is in a tough situation and clearly not clicking on all cylinders after a tough loss to Italy. They need to take the improved play in the Italy match, where a few extra plays could have led to a victory, and build on it. At this point they have nothing to lose and need to play loose to find that contagious spirit and have fun again.