Aug. 19, 2003
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - Former Bruin women's volleyball player Wiz Bachman (Lakeville, Minn.) scored a match-high 18 points and Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif.) added 17 as the U.S. women's national volleyball training team captured the bronze medal at the XIV Pan American Games with a decisive 3-1 over Brazil Saturday night.
In the gold medal match, the Dominican Republic won its first-ever Pan American Games volleyball gold medal with a thrilling 3-2 win over three-time defending Olympic gold medallist Cuba.
Team USA headed into the tournament with the goal of winning a medal, and when they stepped onto the steamy court for the bronze medal match they made certain Brazil would not get in the way of them accomplishing that feat.
Aside from its goal, the team discussed some extra motivation for beating Brazil in a players-only meeting before the match.
"We focused on three major factors," explained Bachman, who had nine kills, a match-high six blocks and a match-high three service aces. "First, this Brazilian team beat us (3-0) in our first match at these games. Second, Brazil beat the USA to take the bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics. And finally, Brazil beat our men's team last night to win the bronze medal."
Branagh had a match-high 12 kills and five blocks while Barboza calmly collected nine kills and two blocks as the Americans exacted revenge on the Brazilians with a systematic attack.
Before the loss to Cuba in the semifinals Thursday night, the United States' only loss in the tournament was to Brazil in the first match of pool play on Aug. 3.
The Brazilians scored a 3-0 win against a USA team playing in its first international match together. Their inexperience showed as Brazil won the match by scores of 30-28, 25-13 and 25-18.
On Saturday night, a "different" team took the court wearing red, white and blue.
"It was a matter of confidence tonight," said Bachman. "We found our rhythm; we believed in each other; and overall we held our composure very well."
The United States captured the bronze medal at this tournament for the second-straight time. At the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg the Americans earned the bronze with a 3-0 win over the Dominican Republic.