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Andy Wong, Associated Press
Brazil's Fabiana de Oliveira and Jaqueline Carvalho celebrate the gold medal in women's volleyball, while Utah's Logan Tom and teammates celebrate the silver.

BEIJING — Seemed like after every U.S. women's volleyball match she played at the Beijing Olympics, Logan Tom was either in tears or on the verge.

Emotional after playing the opener just hours after learning about the stabbings a former teammate's parents. Frustrated after getting swept by Cuba early in the tournament. Exhausted after one of several five-set victories over lesser foes. Choked up after a semifinal win sending the U.S. into the gold-medal match and guaranteeing the national team its first medal since a bronze 16 years ago.

And Saturday night after the gold-medal match at Capital Gymnasium?

No different — and no, those weren't bitter tears for Tom after

the U.S. fell in four sets to Brazil, 25-15, 18-25, 25-13, 25-21.

"You see tears — they're tears of happiness," said Tom. "We came a long way this tournament."

With tender emotions and moist eyes on the medal stand, she cradled the silver for a closer and contented look, despite missing the sought-after gold minutes earlier.

"I'm happy," she said. "I looked at it around my neck — it's such an accomplishment for this team, the USA and these girls, and it brought tears to my eyes. I'm more than thrilled."

Tom led the United States with 16 points — a team-high 15 kills and one service ace. But the Brazilians had an answer — a stifling block or uncanny dig — for nearly every American attack on the night, as evidenced by Brazil's 16-5 advantage in blocks.

And Tom got a personal taste late in the match's fourth set, when Brazil broke a 21-all tie on a U.S. service error and then stuffed Tom twice en route to match point.

"I tried to go sharp, they got me," she said, "I tried to go long, they got me."

On the final play, Tom tried to go over the Brazil block. Her kill attempt sailed long, setting off a Brazilian samba-like celebration.

"I'm not the kind of person to go down without swinging," she said. "That's how I am, and I feel all right about it."

In the opening set, Brazil broke open a 10-all draw with a 10-1 run as the Americans could do little to slow down their opponents before falling 25-15.

However, in the second, the U.S. rushed out to early leads of 7-3 and 10-6 and weathered a few Brazilian storms when the score was in the teens at 16-13 before surging to a 25-18 score and knotting the match at one set each.

It was the first set Brazil had lost in the entire Beijing tournament, having swept all seven previous opponents. And it would be the only set to be dropped.

The set loss seemed to serve as a wake-up call for the Brazilians, who lead early and often in the third, taking a 12-6 advantage and doubling it for lopsided 25-13 win.

The fourth and final set was a back-and-forth battle, with the Americans enjoying a lead at 18-16. Brazil rallied to tie and then take the point advantages from there, snapping the 21-21 tie by scoring the match's four final points.

"We knew we wanted to come in and leave everything we had out on the court out there, and I think we did that," Tom said.

Up next for Tom will be brief break before returning to play in Japan. She'll mull over heading back to the pro beach volleyball tour, where she spent three years after the 2004 Olympics.

And what about London in 2012 for a fourth Summer Games?

"I don't know — I didn't think I'd be back for this one," said the 27-year-old former Highland High star who broke into the national-team program as a Salt Lake teenager. "I kind of fly by the seat of my pants, so we'll see how it goes."

And she leaves Beijing and the Capital Gymnasium court with no disappointments and no "what ifs" — pleased to have the Olympic medal that eluded her and her teammates twice before.

"I have no kind of regrets, no looking back," she said. "I'm happy it (the medal) is there around my neck, and I will be forever."


E-mail: taylor@desnews.com