Watching the U.S. men's volleyball team fall behind Argentina by two games, setter Jeff Stork began dancing on the sidelines to get the coach's attention.
It worked, and so did just about everything Stork did once he got in the game.Inspired by his tricky serves and pinpoint passes, the defending gold medalists stormed from behind Thursday to win 11-15, 11-15, 15-4, 17-15, 15-7. They ran their record to 3-0 and virtually clinch a berth in the medal round.
"Our offense was sputtering for a while but Jeff came in and gave us a boost," said captain Karch Kiraly.
Stork, who sat out the first two games with a back injury, replaced Ricci Luyties with the score tied 4-4 in the third game.
The match was never the same. Argentina failed to score a point the rest of the third game.
Stork immediately served five straight winning points, flipping soft passes for putaway kills by Steve Timmons and Craig Buck and serving an ace to make it 9-4.
"My serve has always been one of my strengths," the left-handed Stork said. "I just stand back 30 or 40 feet and bomb it."
Stork, who has been the team's starting setter since 1986, suffered a lower back injury in a training match against Japan a week before the Olympics.
After missing a week of practice, he worked out with the second team and was pronounced fit by Coach Marv Dunphy.
"I hate watching," Stork said. "They have a box we have to stay in as a substitute and I was jumping all over the place. I was dancing around and looking at Marv to show him I was ready to play."
"It was kind of strange coming back," he said. "It was the first time I've been with the starting team in seven days. I got in the flow after the first few points."
Stork said he came into the game knowing the team needed to change its passing strategy.
"Our players are so diverse, but being on the team for a long time I know who hits best in certain situations," Stork said. "I was trying to change the selection of sets to get our middle hitting going."
After winning 11 straight points to win the third game, the Americans stalled again in the fourth and fell behind 12-10. But Timmons pulled the United States even with two of his team-leading 33 kills and Argentina's spectacular spiker Raul Quiroga missed two shots to make it 14-12.
The Americans had nine game points but couldn't prevail until Argentinian Eduardo Martinez hit the net antenna with a spike attempt.
The Argentinians took a 5-3 lead in the final game, but three straight blocks by Craig Buck and Bob Ctvrtlik put the Americans back in front to stay. The spiking of Timmons and Kiraly brought the United States to match point at 14-7, and Eric Sato came off the bench to end the contest with a jump serve ace.
Argentina had overwhelmed the Americans in the first two games as the 6-foot-6 Quiroga drilled spike after spike from all over the court. He finished with 44 kills, but by the end of the match he was spraying his shots out of bounds.
"He couldn't carry the team by himself for five games," Kiraly said.
It was the Americans' eighth consecutive victory over Argentina, but most of the matches have been tight battles. At last year's Pan American Games, the United States also came back from an 0-2 deficit to win 3-2 in the semifinals.
In other games Thursday, the Soviet Union continued to roll over opponents in their division, running their record to 3-0 with a 15-6, 15-7, 15-13 victory over South Korea. The Soviets, ranked No. 2 in the world, have not dropped a game.
Italy won its first match after two defeats, downing Sweden 9-15, 15-6, 12-15, 15-12, 15-3.