Best of U.S. Men’s Volleyball at the Games: Play-in matches

Off the Block placed the 10 previous U.S. Men’s Volleyball Olympic Teams in a bracket, and now it’s up to you to determine what was the all-time best United States team to compete at the Olympics.

The Off the Block Best of U.S. Men’s Volleyball at the Games is a bracket-style tournament pairing former United States men’s volleyball teams against each other with the winner being determined through online voting. The four-round event begins today with the two play-in matches.

Online voting for both these play-in matches will end at 10 p.m. (CST) Wednesday. The team receiving the most online votes will advance to the quarterfinals that start Thursday.

Check out the today’s ballots and a breakdown of each U.S. team below. Individuals also can vote along with viewing the complete tournament bracket at offtheblockblog.com/bestofusvolleyball.


1996 U.S. MEN’S VOLLEYBALL OLYMPIC TEAM
Olympic site: Atlanta
Place: T-9th
Record: 2-3
Notable players on U.S. roster: Lloy Ball, Bob Ctvrtlik, Scott Fortune, John Hyden, Bryan Ivie, Mike Lambert, Jeff Nygaard, Tom Sorensen, Jeff Stork,
Head coach: Fred Sturm
How it qualified for Olympics: Automatic bid as host nation
Olympic recap: The U.S. streak of winning three consecutive Olympic medals ended in front of its home crowd. Despite beating Poland and Argentina to open the tournament, the United States lost its three remaining pool-play matches and failed to advance to the quarterfinals. Those pool-play loses included a five-game overtime loss to Cuba after winning the opening game by 11 points and a five-game loss to Bulgaria in its pool-play finale. Among the tournament highlights for the United States was Mike Lambert having a match-high 24 kills in a sweep against Poland that had 14,200 people in attendance.

2000 U.S. MEN’S VOLLEYBALL OLYMPIC TEAM
Olympic site: Sydney, Australia
Place: T-11th
Record: 0-5
Notable players on U.S. roster: Lloy Ball, Kevin Barnett, Tom Hoff, John Hayden, Mike Lambert, Ryan Millar, Jeff Nygaard, Erik Sullivan
Head coach: Doug Beal
How it qualified for Olympics: Won NORCECA qualifying tournament
Olympic recap: This was a forgettable Olympics for the United States. For the only time in nation’s history, the United States failed to win a match throughout the entire Olympic tournament. The United States’ closest attempt at a victory came in a five-game loss to Korea. It also won the opening game against Argentina and Italy before losing both pool-play matches in four games. In addition, this remains the last Olympics that the United States did not advance to at least the quarterfinals.

1968 U.S. MEN’S VOLLEYBALL OLYMPIC TEAM
Olympic site: Mexico City, Mexico
Place: 7th
Record: 4-5
Notable players on U.S. roster: Mike Bright, Wink Davenport, Smitty Duke, Thomas Haine, Butch May, Larry Rundle, Jon Stanley, Rudy Suwara, Pete Velasco, Jr.
Head coach: Jim Coleman
How it qualified for Olympics: North American team with the best finish at the 1967 Pan American Games
Olympic recap: The United States opened the Olympic tournament rallying from a one-game deficit to upset the defending-gold medalist Soviet Union in five games. The team, though, following that upset victory lost five of its next six matches with its lone win coming against Brazil. Despite the losses, the United States closed out its tournament with a four-game victory against the host-nation Mexico and a sweep versus Belgium.

1964 U.S. MEN’S VOLLEYBALL OLYMPIC TEAM
Olympic site: Tokyo, Japan
Place: 9th
Record: 2-7
Notable players on U.S. roster: Pete Velasco, Jr., Mike Bright, Mike O’Hara, Keith Erickson, Ron Lang
Head coach: Harry Wilson
How it qualified for Olympics: North American team with the best finish at 1963 Pan American Games
Olympic recap: The United States was one of the 10 countries to compete in the inaugural men’s volleyball Olympic tournament. The U.S. roster was selected about one month before the Olympics and primarily comprised of players who competed on the top adult club teams at the 1964 USA Volleyball National Championship. The United States opened the Olympics defeating the Netherlands and Korea before losing its seven remaining matches. Among the matches during the losing streak included a three-game loss to the eventual gold medalist Soviet Union and blowing a two-game lead in a five-game game loss to Brazil.

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