Logan Tom has been working for a gold medal all of her adult life.
And with a No. 1 ranking and an undefeated Olympic tournament run en route to the gold medal match Saturday, it looked like 2012 would be the moment she, her teammates and coaches had been working for all those years.
It was not.
"We gave it everything we have," said Tom, a four-time Olympian, after the U.S. lost to second-ranked Brazil 11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17. "I like silver; I wear it. I wear gold, but I wear silver more. The gold would have been nice. But I don't have any regrets. I am very settled in my heart."
She called Saturday's title match "strange" because the U.S. absolutely dominated Brazil in the first set. Then the defending Olympic gold medalists came out in the second set and played inspired, intelligent volleyball.
"It was a little bit back and forth," she said. "It was kind of strange."
Both Tom and head coach Hugh McCutcheon said it's tough to lose in the Olympics because the preparation is years of sacrifice and work for one moment of competition.
"If you look at the body of work, certainly it's been a great run," said McCutcheon, who said he is retiring from head coaching duties because he has small children and wants to spend more time with them. "At the end of the day, you train for four years to come here for two weeks to try and be good for two hours. We were good; they were great."
Tom wouldn't commit to future plans, except to say she'll hopefully be playing professionally in Rio de Janeiro next year.
"Every time I say I'm done, I always come back," said Tom, who will skip the closing ceremonies to spend time with family and friends. "So I'm not going to say anything. I'm going to play in Rio, at least I think I am. I will take things as they come."
She said her experience helped keep the loss in perspective.
"I feel bad for my teammates, seeing them hurt," she said. "For me, I'm good. Experience in the past helps you and boosts you in the moment."
Both McCutcheon and Tom said Brazil took the momentum and never really let up after losing the first set.
"I think they made less errors," said Tom. "Their serving picked up. We couldn't really run a sideout as well as we usually can, just passing. We just had a little bit of trouble in that area so they just got a string of points. It's always hard to come back in volleyball, especially against a good team when they get ahead of you."
Brazil simply outplayed the U.S., McCutcheon said.
"They played a lot better and that's what turned it," he said. "Not that we played poorly. Every team has some weaknesses, and the margins, especially at this level, are pretty thin. Once they got going, it was tough for us to stop them. We could never really get the momentum back on our side, and I think that was probably the difference."
McCutcheon said the U.S. should be proud — not just of the silver medal — but of the way they've played in the months leading up to the Olympics.
"I'm proud of this team," he said. "It's been an unbelievable run, and a great tournament. It's obviously heartbreaking not to come away with the win. But I'm still proud of our group and what we achieved here — silver medalists. Hopefully, all eyes are on Rio and we'll keep building what we've tried to achieve the last four years, and finally get over that hump."
The U.S. women finished the tournament with a 7-1 record and 30-2 record in 2012. Brazil, which was on the verge of not qualifying for the quarterfinals heading into the final pool day, finished with a 6-2 record in defending its 2008 Olympic Games title in a gold-medal rematch with the Americans. In the process, Brazil snapped a six-match losing streak to the United States dating back to 2011.
"I'm disappointed with the result, but we did everything we could," said McCutcheon.
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