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Brazil Beats United States for Olympic Men's Volleyball Final
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Brazil defeated the United States in straight sets to cruise into the men's volleyball final of the Athens Olympics Games on Friday.

Brazil scored 25-16, 25-17 and 25-23 in the semifinal, a fantastic showdown with the South Americans having lost only one game in the tournament and the Americans are ranked number two in the world.
"This is exactly what we wanted, to win and to qualify for the final," said Mauricio Lima, who failed to score but came from the bench in the second set to make a series of successful digs for Brazil, "Now the only thing that remains is to win the gold medal."

The two powers traded leads in the opener 6-6 before Brazil launched a 5-0 run and extended to 22-16. Through Andre Nascimento's spike, Brazil ran off three straight points to win the set with 25-15.

Brazil enjoyed a balanced offense from Dante Guimaraes Amaral who scored 15 points, Filho Gilberto Godoy (14), as well as Gustavo Endres and Nascimento who added 11 apiece.

The Brazilians, ranked eighth at the Sydney Olympics, never letany chance slip away from their hands as they took the early lead again at 14-9 in the second set and pushed away to make the game 2-1 by 25-17.

"We served and blocked better, and this was the key to our success," said Amaral.

The Americans, who displayed an incredible turnaround on Thursday to eliminate host Greece 3-2 from two sets down, wanted to replay the scenario in the third set.

Riley Salmon's kill helped the Americans lead for the first time 14-13, the only lead for the United States.

Brazil answered back with another 5-0 run to control the set 18-14 and never looked back before Dante Guimaraes Amaral sealed the one-hour-17-minute match with his last killing score.

None of the Americans could scored more than ten as Brook Billings led the United States with nine points.

Friday's semi-final has set up a wonderful final on Sunday between Brazil and Italy.

"We have to focus on the final because playing against Italy isalways very hard," said Bernardo Rezende, head coach of Brazil.

Earlier, Italy, the Sydney Olympic silver medallist, triumphed over Russia in another thrilling three-set semifinal 25-16, 25-17 and 25-16.

"The Italians once said that we are the best team in the world.Now we have to prove it in the match against them," said Gustavo.

"May God help us step on the top of the podium."
(Xinhua News Agency  August 28, 2004) 

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