1984 Olympics – USA v Brazil – Part 2

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USA met Brazil twice during the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The first match which I wrote about here, took place in pool play.  The second match was the final. The videos at the bottom of this article are each of the sets. They are almost complete, missing just a few rallies.  So the DV Match Report is also almost complete for the nerds.


When the teams met in the first round Brazil, needing to win to advance from pool play defeating USA, who were already qualified, won 3-0.  According Doug Beal in his book ‘Spike!’, the USA team foxed a little, by not starting with Powers or Buck and by purposely not attempting to block the Brazilian jump serves.


The Brazilians were exceptionally confident, even if Dal Zotto was injured.  Bernardo Rezende in his book ‘Transformando Suor em Ouro’ wrote that during the video preparation one player was writing on the back of the chair in front of him, while another enjoyed a nap.  They also spend some of their pre match energy debating an offer from a shoe company of $500 to wear shoes other than the ones supplied by the federation.  In the end the federation put an end to that.  In contrast Beal wrote that they had a tough practice, in which the players thought the coaches pushed them too hard.  They changed Berzins’ blocking match up, put block in front of the jump serve. “We had our rotation down. We had our setting tendencies down, our passing down. Our matchups were perfect.”


– It is impossible for me not to watch this match through the prism of specialisation.  The Americans are specialised and run the same things, very well, over and over again.  The Brazilians are not specialised and reception patterns and attack approaches change in every rotation.  And when substitutions are made, they change again.  The feeling watching this match, rightly or wrongly, is that by trying to do so many things, they didn’t do anything well.

– All of the Brazilian teams plays pretty badly except for Xando and William.  For the first set and a half Xando is the best attacker on the court, but he fades after that.  William plays well, although he loses control of a few balls at the start of the third.  He does however fall over after nearly every set.  Watching the match ‘live’, it is pretty weird.  Watching a clip just of him setting is hilarious. At least to me.

– The main player for USA is Steve Timmons. For the first half of the match he is the dominating for in attack, from both front and backrow.  Pat Powers starts off okay, and then heats up once the result is more or less determined in the third set.  Karch Kiraly doesn’t play as badly as the first match, but isn’t quite at his best.

Bernardinho comes on the end of the second set. He does not make things better.

– The crowd noise is amazing as the match progresses. The third set feels almost like a party.  The crowd is crazy, a ‘madhouse’ wrote Beal, and Americans play with the sense of joy you can only have if you already know the result.  By the end, it seemed almost as if the Brazilians were just as keen to finish the match.

– It is funny to watch the coaches.  Beal completely impassively sitting, observing, not letting anything out. Bebeto eager, nervous, stressed, changing his position often.  At this time coaches were not allowed to stand up next to the court, or even to communicate in any way with the players.

– Doug Beal, “Brazil had 73 opportunities to score but scored on only 13 rotations.”

– After the match, Karch was chosen for drug testing and needed three hours to produce his sample, arriving joining the party at the team hotel late (in ‘The Sand Man’).

– At the closing ceremony most of the American players sold pins and gear to make extra money, Craig Buck selling the entire contents of his suitcase and Karch making $700 selling, among other things, Steve Salmons’ dirty knee pads (in ‘The Sand Man’).

Here is the Data Volley Match Report for the match.

Click for more Matches From History.

Tagged Doug Beal, Karch Kiraly, Olympic Volleyball, USA Volleyball, 1984 Olympic Volleyball, Bernardinho


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