Team USA volleyball rallies past upstart Netherlands

The Netherlands are still the darlings of the women’s volleyball tournament, but Team USA refused to be the next victim, digging deep for a hard-fought victory in five sets.

The Dutch team pulled off a surprising upset of gold-medal challenger China on the first day of volleyball action Saturday, beating the No. 3-ranked team in the world in five sets.

A day off didn’t halt Netherlands’ momentum, coming out firing on all cylinders against the American squad.

The U.S. team got out to a flat start, losing the first set 25-18 and helping the Dutch team along with a slew of service faults.

The Americans responded with a 25-18 victory in the second set. At one spot in the middle of the set, USA recorded seven of eight points.

It looked as if the U.S. team – which entered Rio as the No. 1 squad in the world – had settled in, but Netherlands wouldn’t allow it for long.

In the third set, the Dutch team jumped out to 24-17 lead. USA rattled off four straight points, but they couldn’t complete the epic comeback, leading to a 25-21 loss in the third set.

The two teams traded points in the fourth set before USA pulled away and sent the match into five sets with a 25-20 victory in the fourth set.

In the deciding set, a series of three consecutive blocks led to points for USA as they jumped out to a 7-3 lead. They went on to win the fifth set 15-8.

Since the match went to five sets, both teams retained a point for pool play and USA collected two points for the victory. The top four teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals, which begin Tuesday, Aug. 16.

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