Rio Roundup: Day Two, Part One

United States women eliminated from rugby medal contention

The quarterfinal round was held at Deodoro Stadium, but the best the American women can do is finish between fifth and eighth.  New Zealand advanced as Portia Woodman scored a try on the final play of the first half to give them their only score of the day.

In the second half, the U.S. had a chance with an extra attacker since Tyla Nathan-Wong of New Zealand was sent to the sin bin for two minutes after a late tackle.  Sadly, the Americans did not mount much of a threat.  The most ironic stat about New Zealand, they did not score less than 26 points in any of its first three matches thus far in Rio.

Earlier in the day,  Abigail Brown scored less than 15 seconds and scored once more on a try in second half as she helped Great Britain coast to 26-7 win over Fiji.

Even though Canada was shut out during the first half and gave up a try to France, the Canadian woman struck back with three tries of their own and triumphed 15-5.

The other quarterfinal had the powerful Australians barely break a sweat against Spain,  as Ellia Green scored a try in her triumphant return to the pitch.   This was after suffering a jarring hit during the match with the United States.  Their 24-0 whitewash sets up this semifinal schedule for Monday afternoon:

Australia vs. Canada (1:30 p.m. Eastern)

Great Britain vs. New Zealand (2:00 p.m. Eastern)

On the sands of Copacabana Beach in beach volleyball:

A men’s match featured Pedro Solberg/Evandro of Brazil and Diaz/Gonzalez of Cuba.  The first set went back and forth before the Cubans survived the first set winning 24-22.  The second set was more of the same, but the host nation emerged on top 23-21.  However, the Cubans proved to be a bit too much in the end picking up the victory in a 15-13 thriller.

Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena began their possible run for gold on Sunday afternoon.  Set number one against Tunisia’s pair or Naceur and Balhaj wasn’t even close, as the Americans cruised to an easy 21-7 win.  The second set had Tunisia take a brief 4-3 lead, but an unforced error tied the game at four.  Dalhausser and Lucena managed to pulled away after it was tied again at 6-6 by scoring 4 of the next 5 points before Tunisia was forced to call timeout.  An ace followed by a block at the net from Naceur brought Tunisia within a point of the Americans at 10-9, but the American pair proved to be too much for the inexperienced Tunisians as the match ended with a 21-7, 21-13 decision.

For the ladies, the American pair of Brooke Sweat and Lauren Fendrick took an early lead against a team from Poland.  The new American pair managed to win the first set over Kolosinska/Brzostek by a 21-14 count.  However, the Polish women raced to a 12-4 lead before ending up tying the match 21-13 and pulled away from the American women taking the third set 15-7.

The day started out with Brazil’s other top pair of Larrisa and Talita burying the Russian pair of Ukolova and Birlova with five aces during the first set en route toa  21-14 win.  The second set was no different as the host nation’s crowd was very vocal in seeing them win again 21-16.

A major upset occurred in indoor volleyball, as the men from Canada upended the American squad 25-23, 25-17, and 25-23.  Canada entered the match as the 12th ranked team according to the rankings released by FIVB, the United States was fifth.

Finally, the best part about Sunday was women’s basketball.  The American women set a new Olympic record for points scored in a game in a 121-56 rout of Senegal.

The previous record was 114, set in 1992 at Barcelona and tied 20 years later in London.

Diana Taurasi nailed our threes in the first seven minutes, en route to a record-breaking six three-pointers during the contest.  Her 12 points in the first quarter was more than double of Senegal’s output, as they were held to only five points after the first ten minutes of play.

Just for good measure, the Phoenix Mercury guard and one-time UConn great hit a fifth three during the third quarter, which tied her own U.S. Olympic record for most triples converted in a game.

Everyone but Sue Bird scored during the first half, but the former UConn star had seven assists.   With the Americans holding a 64-21 lead at halftime, they piled it on in bunches by outscoring the Senagalese 57-35 in the final 20 minutes.

Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky and Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury made their Olympic debuts and seemed to fit right in with Geno Auriemma’s system.  Delle Donne tabulated 11 points to go along with six assists and two steals, while Griner had a nice game with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and registered two blocked shots.

Breanna Stewart, having just finished her collegiate career at the University of Connecticut as the four time reigning National Player of the Year scored 10 points during the first half en route to finishing with 15 points, tied with Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles for game-high honors.The U.S. defense smothered Senegal all game long, forcing Senegal into making numerous turnovers–mostly caused by the great defense from former UConn standout Maya Moore.  Her stat line nearly mirrored every other UConn grad on the roster, as she made three steals, 4 rebounds to go along with scoring nine points.

Every player scored when all was said and done, with seven players in double figures.  This was the largest margin of victory in American women’s basketball Olympic history.  Sadly, there won’t be much time to celebrate as they will take the court again on Monday (11 a.m. Eastern) against Spain.

Thought of the Day:

Even though the Williams sisters of Serena and Venus lost in their opening tennis match in women’s doubles, they probably did not have as fun a time as the American swimmers.

If you were briefly paying attention to the Reader section located in the upper left corner of any WordPress blog you visit, one might have noticed the 2016 swimmers taking a page out of James Corden’s book.  There is an almost eight minute video of the swimmers doing Carpool Karaoke–almost half the time of recent pop music sensation out of London in Adele.

The most hilarious moment was seeing 22 time record medal holder Michael Phelps speaking to his mom while driving simply telling her,

“We’re doing Carpool Karaoke right now.  Can I call you right back?”

Even the camera twice panned over to an adjacent sidewalk where no more than three passersby were walking along, going about their own business and a couple of them even stopped by their car to dance a bit.

However, that all pales in comparison to what they did prior to jetting off across the pond to London in 2012.
When Carly Rae Jepsen’s megahit “Call Me Maybe” hit social media, groups from baseball players to the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders all did cheesy videos of their own.  Enter Team USA and there are the ladies, mimicking the guys in the pool, out of the pool and each of them turning their backs in unison while on the plane.  Thankfully, that little piece of virtual cheesiness lasted a tad over three minutes.
I don’t know about you, but I feel at times that I am growing up in the wrong generation.  Back in the day, people had camcorders (bulky and delicate as they were), but that was how we made our priceless memories in the latter years of the 20th century.
At least, hopefully the Americans will get the last laughs inside the Maria Lenk Aquatics Center tonight in prime time.  See you tomorrow, presuming no more kayakers hit other grungy furniture buried underneath Guanabaro Bay.
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