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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Sport-By-Sport Report : VOLLEYBALL

Americans Turn Tables on Argentina

July 24, 1996

The U.S. men's Olympic volleyball team showed Argentina what it can do when it has the cheering, flag-waving crowd on its side.

Even when Argentina made a run in the third set, closing a seven-point lead to one, Team USA refused to let the momentum change. It held on to sweep Argentina, 15-7, 15-8, 15-11, on Tuesday at Athens, Ga., to improve to 2-0 in Pool A.

"If we can get out of here in three, we'll take it," captain Bob Ctvrtlik said. "It is a game of emotion. That's where the crowd comes in. If we're in Argentina, that's a lot tougher set to close out right there. But the crowd gives you that little extra lift."

The Americans saw the other side last year, when Argentina got a huge emotional boost from the home crowd in the Pan American Games and beat the Americans twice. In the gold medal match, a frenzied, overflow crowd sang a fight song through the entire tie-breaking fifth set, which Argentina won, 20-18.

"It was the most awesome thing I've heard," U.S. Coach Fred Sturm said. "I think a home crowd can really jack up a home team. This is a relatively novel experience for us--a home crowd cheering for us."

Sturm said he thought about making substitutions in the third set, but again used only six players.

The crowd got louder every time the Argentines threatened and got on its feet every time Team USA served a set point.

With the score, 11-10, in the third and Dan Landry serving, Jeff Nygaard blocked a ball for a point, and veteran Bryan Ivie had a kill to make it 13-11.

The biggest roar came when Ivie served on match point. Mike Lambert brought up the Argentines' attack, Ivie set it and Landry smashed it off the floor in front of an Argentine defender.

Brazil's reign as Olympic volleyball champion, meanwhile, could be coming to a premature end.

The Barcelona gold medalist was upset by Bulgaria, 15-11, 15-13, 15-8, in their Group A match at Atlanta and now must beat Poland, the United States and Cuba to stand a chance of reaching the quarterfinals.

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