The Americans made the trip to Rio with one goal and one goal only on their mind: Catching a return flight home with gold medals draped around their necks.
Sure, that is the ultimate goal for every Olympian, but for the No. 1-ranked women’s volleyball team in the world, that objective was very much within grasp.
Team USA started out 6-0 in the Rio tournament before running into the brick wall of Serbia Thursday, dropping a heart-wrenching semifinal.
Packed with veteran leadership and a volleyball legend (Karch Kiraly) at the helm, the Americans knew there was only so much time they could allot to feeling sorry for themselves.
With roughly 46 hours in between matches, USA is taking notes from fellow Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, who faced the crushing heartbreak of defeat in the beach volleyball semifinal and had to get over the disappointment to play the following night for the bronze.
Even though there’s no chance for a gold, there are huge stakes in the bronze medal match as it’s the difference between going home with hardware or empty-handed.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, won’t be an easy opponent for the Americans as the Dutch women’s volleyball team has turned in the best showing in the country’s history.
Back in the Olympics after a 20-year layoff, the Netherlands reached the semifinals for the first time ever and now has a chance at taking home the first medal in program history.
USA and the Netherlands face off in the bronze medal match Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.