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Medal Round Goes on Without U.S. Men

July 30, 1996

Volleyball, a sport invented in the United States 101 years ago, without a U.S. team in the men's medal round?

"This is about as painful a thing as you can have," said captain Bob Ctvrtlik, whose third Olympics are his last. "I can't find a bright side. I hope the sun comes up tomorrow."

If it does, the U.S. players can watch it from home after its string of Olympic medals came to a stunning end Monday night when it was knocked out by a one-two foreign punch.

Bulgaria won a dramatic fifth-set tiebreaker over the Americans to take one of the final two quarterfinal spots in Pool A. Then, with some U.S. players watching from the stands, defending gold medalist Brazil grabbed the last spot with a 15-11, 15-10, 15-11 win over Cuba, already top-seeded in Pool A.

Bulgaria beat the United States, 15-11, 13-15, 11-15, 15-5, 15-12. Fans at the Omni were on their feet on match point, but were left hushed when Martin Stoev pushed the ball across the net and onto the floor.

The U.S. players sprawled or slumped near their bench, then left to cheers from a crowd that included Karch Kiraly, who led America to gold medals in indoor volleyball in 1984 and 1988 and won beach volleyball's first gold medal Sunday. The United States won the bronze in 1992.

The United States (2-3) lost its last three matches.

"I am stunned," said Ctvrtlik, one of only three players remaining from the '88 gold medal team. "This is a darn good team we're on, and I'm just so disappointed that we didn't show it when we have this great home crowd. We didn't make the clutch plays."

Ctvrtlik and the other links to 1988--Jeff Stork and Scott Fortune--will retire from the national team to play beach volleyball. Bryan Ivie, who was also with the '92 team, will play professionally in Brazil and on the beach.

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