Bottle the Happy, Tearful Energy of the US Women’s Volleyball Team Winning Olympic Gold

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It was a moment 57 years in the making. On the final day of competition at the Tokyo Olympics, the US women’s volleyball team — the most decorated volleyball squad never to win Olympic gold — finally made the top of the podium after defeating Brazil in three straight sets.

The final point came courtesy of three-time Olympian and team captain Jordan Larson, who spiked the ball just behind Brazil’s front row to close out the third set 25-14. The celebration that followed was one for the ages, as the American athletes piled up at center court, having written a new chapter for a program that had won three silver medals and two bronze — in addition to other major international tournaments — but never quite captured that elusive gold.

Asked on the sidelines if this moment was everything the team imagined it would be, middle blocker Haleigh Washington wiped away tears. “It’s a lot more wet than I had anticipated, but it’s everything we wanted it to be,” Washington said. “The hard work that we put in, the sweat, the tears, the blood. It’s been worth it, and I am so proud to have done it with this group of women. I’m so honored.”

The gold medal in women’s volleyball was Team USA’s last of the Tokyo Games and put the US at the top of the medal table with 39 gold medals (just ahead of China’s 38), and 113 medals overall. Keep scrolling to watch the stunning finale of the women’s volleyball tournament and see more photos from Team USA’s gold medal celebration.

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