Annie Drews (USA)

The United States won their first ever gold medal, following their 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-14) win over two-time champions Brazil on Sunday in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 women’s gold medal match at Ariake Arena.

USA had three silver medal finishes at Los Angeles 1984, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and two third place finishes at Barcelona 1992 and Rio 2016. The North American squad finally bagged gold, which was the only missing medal in their Olympic collection. They lost to China in 1984 and lost against Brazil in 2008 and 2012.

Annie Drews led USA with Michelle Bartsch-Hackley as they scored 15 and 14 points, respectively. Captain Jordan Larson added 12 points – all from the attack line. Fe Garay and Gabi Guimaraes made 11 and 10 points for Brazil.

Michelle Bartsch-Hackley’s two attacks started a 4-0 run for USA in the opening set. USA gave Brazil their first point in the match off a service error by Foluke Akinradewo, but even that break could not spark a run as the USA hitters kept scoring.


Brazil battled through with better defence and succeeded to trim the USA lead to just one point at 15-14. However, Larson and Bartsch-Hackley teamed-up for another scoring spree that stretched their lead. Brazil had their scoring surge late in the set and cut the lead to 24-21, but Bartsch-Hackley put away the set with a kill for the 25-21 USA win in the first set.

USA and Brazil were matched evenly in attacks in the second set, but with fewer turnovers and a slight edge in blocks and aces, USA took a 20-15 lead. Gabi and Fe Garay jumpstarted a Brazilian comeback, but Annie Drews’ productive performance in the set was enough to safeguard the USA lead. An exchange in service errors closed the second set in favour of USA at 25-20.


By the third set, momentum was completely on the USA side as Brazil were startled and intimidated by the USA attack and block. The three-time VNL winners likewise defended well on the floor to set up strong counterattacks.

The USA lead ballooned to nine points with just five points to play for USA to complete the sweep. At 20-11, USA gained their points off Natalia and Gabi’s attack mishits and Carol Gattaz’s service blunder to inch closer at 23-13. Drews’ stuff block gave match point, then Jordan Larson delivered the final blow to win gold for USA at 25-14.

With the gold medal achievement, USA coach Karch Kiraly becomes the second person in Olympic history to have won gold both as player (Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988) and coach (Tokyo 2020) after Lang Ping (Los Angeles 1984 & Rio 2016). In addition, Kiraly has also won Olympic gold in beach volleyball (Atlanta 1996).