USA women’s coach Karch Kiraly admits Friday’s loss to Russia cut deep but has challenged his players to keep their Olympic dream alive with a win over FIVB Women’s World Cup hosts Japan.
With their first loss in seven games Team USA plummeted from first to fourth place in the 12-team round robin tournament.
The top two sides will be rewarded with a spot in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
They must now win their remaining two matches against Japan and Dominican Republic (on Sunday), and have other results go their way, to finish top-two.
“Russia played a very strong match,” a dejected Kiraly said.
“This was a disappointing loss. Every tournament brings pain and adversity and this is ours.
“We have a chance to come back against a good Japan team tomorrow.
“Number one (Yana Shcherban) played good. We did not execute our game plan well against her and number 15 (Tatiana Kosheleva) is always good and she was again today.”
It was a total team effort from the Russians who avenged dual FIVB World Grand Prix defeats to the Americans.
In the process Russia reclaimed top spot and can secure their Olympic berth with victories in their final two fixtures against second-place China and winless Algeria.
“I’m very happy with the victory,” Russia coach Yury Marichev said.
“The USA is a strong team and beating them is something we have been trying to achieve for a while.
“When we lost to Serbia we lost our concentration after the second set but today we were able to maintain our concentration.”
Don’t miss the FIVB VNL 2019!
Watch all 260 games of the best men & womens international volleyball online - LIVE & on-demand!