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Gold Will Be Mined From Golden State

July 28, 1996

California guys got the sport going, and now four of them will go for Olympic gold in beach volleyball.

An American gold medal was assured when the two surviving U.S. teams, Mike Dodd and Mike Whitmarsh and the duo of Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes, won their semifinal matches at Jonesboro, Ga.

Their victories came on a day when the U.S. women lost to an Australian team in the bronze-medal match, and Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires won the gold by defeating fellow Brazilians Monica Rodrigues and Adriana Samuel. They were the first Olympic medals by any Brazilian women.

For security reasons, all matches were moved to the 9,000-seat main court. Original plans called for some to be held at a 3,500-seat court nearby. Ticket-holders who could not be seated at the stadium court had the option of getting a refund or exchanging their tickets for closing ceremonies.

Steffes and Kiraly, of San Clemente reached the final with a 15-11 victory over Canada's John Child and Mark Heese.

Dodd, of Manhattan Beach, and Whitmarsh, of San Diego, rallied from a 12-9 deficit for a 15-13 victory over Joao Brenha and Miguel Maia of Portugal.

Today's gold-medal game features teams that battle almost weekly for superiority on the U.S. pro tour.

"This is where we wanted to be--playing for the gold medal," Kiraly said. "Even nicer still is to be playing against a couple guys that I love to compete against and are good friends too."

Silva and Pires, the top-seeded women's pair, won the first set of the gold-medal game, 12-11, and were never seriously threatened in a 12-6 victory in the second.

Before the medal round, matches were decided by one game in which the winning team must score 15 points and win by two. In medal games, matches are decided in a best-of-three format. The winning team must score 12 points but needs to win by only one.

After the women's match, all four players took giant Brazilian flags and waved them as they ran around the perimeter of the court.

In the bronze-medal match, Linda Hanley and Barbra Fontana Harris of the United States took an 11-9 first-set lead against Australia's Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst, only to lose, 12-11. The Australians built a 7-1 lead in the second set and won, 12-7.

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