The test of any team is how it handles adversity, but there are some types of adversity that no team should have to face. Like the kind that befell the U.S. men's volleyball team.
It was at their Saturday morning practice that head coach
Compared to that, being without a coach seems trivial, but this is the Olympics, and this is, as team captain
And so McCutcheon called his team Saturday night, on the eve of their opening match against Venezuela, to remind them of where they were: the Olympic Games. "Just to hear his voice and get leadership from him meant a tremendous amount," Hoff said. "He told us it'll be difficult, but together we'll be stronger."
And together they were stronger, assistant coach
"I have zero frame of reference in how to deal emotionally with something like this,"
But even without McCutcheon present, this team is following his emotional lead. For the men, like Lambourne, who may have been uncertain what to do, McCutcheon's confirmation that they should focus on the four-year goal that is at their doorstep, gave them a path to follow.
You could see it when they came out against Venezuela, when they took a moment of silence amidst a frothing crowd packed with Venezuela supporters, and in their high energy in the first two sets. The Great Shuffling Wall of
After the game, Larsen wasn't sure whether surging and ebbing adrenaline, after all they'd been through in the last day, accounted for the high of the first two sets, and the low of the next two, but whatever the case, the third-ranked team in the world weathered the comeback, and their nerves.
With McCutcheon's blessing, this team, even with its heavy heart, is firmly focused on volleyball, and will continue on course as a medal contender.