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THE SEOUL GAMES / DAY 16 : U.S. Wins Showdown With Soviets, Takes Home Men's Volleyball Gold

October 02, 1988|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

SEOUL — Coach Marv Dunphy's leave of absence from Pepperdine University is winding down. He'll soon be back in Malibu, high on a hill with a beautiful view of the ocean. Back with his family. Back in the land where volleyball is played on the beaches just for fun.

But he'll bring home with him memories of a classic Olympic volleyball match, a convincing victory by the United States men's team over the Soviet Union in a long-awaited confrontation. It had more than 22,000 fans chanting and cheering in the packed Chamshil Gymnasium Sunday afternoon in one of the last competitions of the 1988 Olympic Games.

In Dunphy's term as the national team coach, the United States has won the World Cup, the World Championships and the Olympics, the three major competitions considered the triple crown of international volleyball. And this team left no doubt that it deserves its No. 1 ranking.

When Doug Partie of Santa Barbara slammed down the final kill on the fourth match point for the gold medal, he seemed to be making a statement about the dominance of this U.S. team, and the crowd responded.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday October 3, 1988 Home Edition Sports Part 3 Page 14 Column 2 Sports Desk 1 inches; 26 words Type of Material: Correction
Scott Fortune of Laguna Beach made the final kill in the U.S. volleyball victory over the Soviet Union Sunday afternoon. It was incorrectly reported that the kill was made by Bob Partee.

Amid the hundreds of United States flags waving around the arena was a flag of the state of California, in honor of a U.S. team made up mainly of California players--to the rest of the world a bunch of beach boys.

But these beach boys told the world that U.S. volleyball is not to be trifled with.

The U.S. team started slowly but built to a strong finish in a 13-15, 15-10, 15-4, 15-8 victory that left the Soviets no room for excuses.

Although the U.S. and Soviet teams have played often in international tournaments, this was the first time that they had met in the Olympic final.

The U.S. team was the defending gold medalist from the 1984 Games in Los Angeles that the Soviets boycotted. The Soviets won the gold in 1980, when the United States boycotted the Games in Moscow.

At last, they went head-to-head for the gold.

Bob Ctvrtlik of Long Beach, a swing hitter for the U.S. team, was not yet on the national team in 1984; he was a security guard when the Games were played in Los Angeles.

Sunday, he addressed himself to the reason this team so desperately wanted to win its second gold medal against the Soviets.

"The U.S. won the gold in 1984, but always there was the doubt, the thing we didn't talk about too much, that the strongest teams, the Eastern Bloc teams, weren't there," he said.

"No one is going to say now that we didn't win this gold medal against the best."

The Soviet Union has the best record in Olympic volleyball history (37-5). The Soviets have medaled every time they have competed. Their three Olympic gold medals are the most of any country.

Dunphy's teams have played the Soviets so many times that he not only can list the strengths and tendencies of every Soviet player, he can spell their names. He knew what to attack and how to adjust his attack.

The first game, a hard-fought exhibition, took 42 minutes and went through 9 game points before the Soviets won it, 15-13.

In the second game, the Americans jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, but the Soviets finally responded, and that game took almost 35 minutes before the U.S. team won, 15-10.

One of the American team's strengths, and a trait that Dunphy stresses and directs, is the ability to adjust to the opponent. No matter how well the coaches know the other team and no matter how brilliant the game strategy, there is always room for fine-tuning after the first minutes of play. Dunphy said: "We may not be the biggest, the fastest or the strongest, but we're the most spontaneous. . . .

"It's a game of cat-and-mouse. Who's going to get set when and where, and who's going to adjust to that."

By the third game, the U.S. team was clearly in control, needing just 25 minutes to win, 15-4. Steve Timmons of Newport Beach, strong throughout the match, was especially so in this game. Although Timmons modestly called his own performance "average," he did say that the U.S. team turned it up when it needed to turn it up.

That's just what the Soviets did not do. They especially needed to respond in the second game, but they seemed to shrink from the competition. A sour-looking Soviet coach, Guennadi Parchine, pointed out: "We could not concentrate when we needed to. We could not measure up to the United States' psychological superiority."

Indeed, as Dunphy had said the day before, the U.S. team went into this match with a "warm confidence."

The Americans came in a little late, though. The gold-medal match started late because of the incredible bronze-medal match that Argentina won over Brazil, 15-10, 15-17, 15-8, 12-15, 15-9, in 3 hours 10 minutes.

In the three years that Dunphy has been the national coach, the Soviets have a 25-10 record against the Americans. But the U.S. team has beaten the Soviets in the last two major tournaments, the 1985 World Cup and the 1986 World Championships.

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