The Americans once again show heart in the Olympics when it comes down to a hard fought battle.
Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal fought a brutal battle with Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Raul Mesa, marginally winning the first set at 26-24. Herrera and Mesa were merciless in their fast play and did not give in to the Americans easily.
And so it was in the second set. Herrera and Mesa continued to taunt Gibb and Rosenthal in the second set, matching them point for point and eventually taking the lead 11-10. The Spaniards were honorable and strong opponents.
After an incidental contact between Rogers and Herrera, Rogers was quick to help Herrera up, Herrera reached and took Rogers hand, showing the sportsmanship between the two teams.
On the first point after the point, the Spanish had an easy spike and Rosenthal dug it out of the sand on a miraculous play, but the Spaniard’s Mesa ate the Americans alive with his next spike. It was still 16-14 US, but the Spaniards demonstrated they are great players and should not be taken for granted.
So, the Spaniards on the next point spike again. Mesa spiked to Rosenthal who made a miraculous save and got it in the air to Gibb who scurried to keep the ball alive and Rosenthal returned it over the net.
The next play has to be seen. The USA team showed heart and excellence as they scored the next point. A spike by the Spaniards was weak and Rosenthal was able to get it in the air. But Gibb had everything he could do to chase it down out of bounds to get in the air for Rosenthal. Gibb was masterful, placing just in front of the net for a graceful touch by Rosenthal. All the Spaniards could do was touch it and pass it under the net as the USA team danced in glory.
The US team appeared to get complacent and allowed the Spaniards to come back to 17-16. But Gibb ate up Mesa on a spike taking it to 18-16. The next play was complacent again on the American’s as they blew a point hitting an easy spike out of bounds.
Then came the play of the game. The Spaniards served. Gibb popped it in the air and Rosenthal set it up for a Gibb spike. Gibb went up but the Spaniards were ready and blocked his return. In a miraculous play, Rosenthal scooped the block from the sand by inches stretching beyond everything that seems human. Gibb popped it up trusting his teammate even as he lay in the sand from the last play. Rosenthal rose to the occasion. He stood up and spiked it past the Spaniards leaving them to wonder how they lost the point.
This broke the Spaniards back. They realized nothing they could do would win. Gibb-Rosenthal were suddenly a wall. The Spanish hit it out of bounds at match point and Gibb Rosenthal too the set 21-17 and the match.
Spain had to endure two painful defeats today at the hands of the US, in basketball and in volleyball. But they have a ton of company as the US leads in medals in the Olympics.