U.S. serving falls flat in stunning Olympic loss to Canada

Serving errors and late-set mistakes resulted in the first major upset of the Olympic tournament and put the U.S. hopes of advancing beyond the pool-play stage in a precarious situation.

The United States committed 18 serving errors as Canada pulled off the upset 25-23, 25-17, 25-23 on the opening day of pool-play matches Sunday in Rio.


Six U.S. players had multiple serving errors in the three-set loss to Canada, a team the United States swept at the 2015 FIVB World Cup. In addition, Canada finished with eight fewer service errors in its first all-time Olympic victory against its NORCECA rival.

Opposite Gavin Schmitt had a team-high 12 kills on a .429 attack percentage and was one of two Canadian players with double-digit kills.

Canada out-blocked the United States 9 to 7, despite U.S. middle attacker Max Holt having a team-high three blocks. The United States also was held to a 23.08 percent offensive efficiency — almost 11 percentage points less than Canada.

Two former Penn State All-Americans were the only U.S. players to have more than five kills in the loss. Opposite Matt Anderson finished with a match-high 13 kills, while outside attacker Aaron Russell in his Olympic debut added 12 kills.

The United States entered the Olympics after winning the 2015 FIVB World Cup and reaching three consecutive FIVB World League Finals. The tournament-opening loss, though, drops the United States into last place in Pool A and two of its four remaining pool-play matches are against higher ranked teams in the FIVB world rankings.

Canada earned one of the final bids to the Olympic tournament during the summer and was playing in its first Olympic match since 1992.

The United States will continue the pool-play round with a match against Italy at 1 p.m. (CST) Tuesday. The team went 1-1 against Italy during the 2016 FIVB World League, including a four-set loss to Italy at the FIVB World League Finals in July.