AT THE GAMES — About a week ago, Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne were only tangentially aware of one another.
Sure, they ran in similar circles — and the world of professional beach volleyball is only so large.
But the two had rarely played together, and when Gibb needed a new partner once his previous teammate Taylor Crabb tested positive for COVID-19, the phone calls were quick. The 45-year-old in his fourth Olympics had little time to waste to find a replacement for Crabb, who is vaccinated, he told NPR.
Bourne was driving home from a vacation with his daughter in Las Vegas, but he didn't think twice. The 32-year-old spiker set up his travel arrangements and was on his way to Tokyo without any hesitation.
And there still isn't any.
Bourne poured in 11 kills to help the United States to a 21-19, 23-21 win over Switzerland's Adrian Heidrich and Mirco Gerson in Pool C play.
"We've played volleyball for years, and we have experience," Gibb told NBC after the win, which aired Tuesday night in the United States. "We've done this, we've been out there, we've adapted to partners in the past. And we have a lot of mutual respect for each other. It doesn't have to be that complicated."
Gibb, a Bountiful native, had eight kills, three blocks and two aces for the new U.S. partnership, which improved to 2-0.
Gerson had 16 kills and 14 digs for Switzerland, and Heidrich added 13 kills.
And Gibb couldn't be any happier, even if — he likes to joke — both he and Bourne are each less-than-dutiful when it comes to play defense on the back row.
"It's fun. It's really fun," Gibb said after making a joke about how a dig stopped in his tracks. "I've got some defensive game in there, somewhere.
"I'm a little out of my element, but Tri's out of his element playing defense, too. We're just working through it."
Gibb and Bourne survived the opening set 21-19 on a missed served moments after Mirco Gerson's ace pulled the Swiss within two. Switzerland outhit the Americans 22-12 in the first set but were plagued by errors, including seven from the service line and 10 at the net,
Team USA briefly lost the lead midway through the second set, but Bourne took it back with a powerful, soaring kill to go up 20-19. Gibb then pounded a kill off the block before Bourne tooled a ball off the touch to wrap up the sweep 23-21.
The two will play again Friday morning (Thursday night back home) against Qatar, the third-ranked team in the world.
But Bourne's not worried. If the first week of a new partnership is the hardest, he's got nothing to worry about.
"Jake Gibb is a player who has pushed me the most in my career," Bourne said. "He's probably the player I respect the most in the world, actually, in terms of the way he goes about his business and the way he competes."
Back on track! The U.S. Men 🇺🇸 run away with set three 25-14 against Tunisia 🇹🇳 and now lead the match 2-1. #TokyoOlympics#Tokyo2020— USA Volleyball (@usavolleyball) July 28, 2021
📺: USA Network
Match Hub: https://t.co/vkl9SNNEvH
Watch Online: https://t.co/HRFjoSGme1pic.twitter.com/98nPBAUygH
Men's volleyball: USA 3, Tunisia 1
TJ DeFalco poured in 21 kills and seven digs, and Micah Christenson dished out 59 assists to help the United States rebound from its first loss of the tournament with a 25-14, 23-25, 25-14, 25-23 win over Tunisia in Pool B play at Ariake Arena.
Former BYU standout Taylor Sander put down 14 kills, five blocks and two aces before leaving in the third set after aggravating the same ankle injury that ended his most recent professional season.
Sander returned for part of the fourth set, but played easy on his previously hurt ankle.
Max Holt supplied 13 kills and three blocks for Team USA, who played in front of a small group of fans — the U.S. women's team, including assistant coach and former BYU men's volleyball assistant Luka Slabe.
DeFalco had six kills in the opening set to lead Team USA to a 25-14 win in just 27 minutes. The Americans ran into trouble midway through the second set, as Tunisia fought off the mat and rallied to take a 19-18 edge on a hitting error. Hamza Nagga's back-row kill then gave the African side a 25-23 win.
It was Tunisia's first set victory of the Olympic Games. It would also be the tam's last. Sander and Holt each reached double-digit kills in the third set, the United States went on to a 25-14 rout en route to the win.
Men's basketball: USA 120, Iran 66
Following Team USA's somewhat shocking loss to France in its Olympic opener, former Weber State guard Damian Lillard knew there weren't many excuses.
"We have a history of dominance, maybe not always blowing people out but we have a history of winning," he said. "It's not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start."
But even moments after the loss, he knew one thing: "We can still accomplish what we came here to accomplish, and we have to make sure we keep that in mind."
It sure looked like he had that in mind for the United States' second game of the Olympics.
Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard, erupted for 18 points in the first half against Iran to lead the U.S. to an easy 120-66 victory.
After a shaky, at best, offensive showing against France, Team USA came out firing from outside. Iran had no answers for the Americans' drive-and-kick game, especially when the shots started to fall — and more specifically, when Lillard's shots started to fall.
A game after committing some crucial late-game turnovers against France, Lillard bounced back with a 21-point night. He made seven 3-pointers, including six in the first half. As a team, the United States shot a blistering 13 of 21 from beyond the arc in the opening 20 minutes to build a 33-point lead.
It was a stronger showing for Lillard and the USA, which looked much more like the gold medal favorites than it did against France. But it was against a team with no current NBA player and one that was clearly overwhelmed by the talent of the U.S. team.
"We played like ourselves," Lillard told NBC after the win. "We didn't think it was just going to happen — we made it happen."
The Americans will finish off group play Saturday with a matchup against the Czech Republic. A win will clinch a spot in the knockout rounds.
"We are here to dominate and be winners and represent our country the right way," Lillard said.
Men's basketball: Germany 99, Nigeria 92
Utah Jazz guard Miye Oni is the son of first-generation Nigerian immigrants. His mother was born in the African country, his father lived there and his parents taught him where their family came from.
So, for Oni being able to put on the Nigerian colors at the Olympics has been special.
"They always teach me about Nigerian culture and everything like that," Oni told ESPN. "So it's been important to them and something I dreamed of and something that my whole family is excited for."
And while Nigeria fell to 0-2 in Olympic play with a 99-92 loss to Germany, Oni gave his family and their native country plenty of reasons to be excited.
Oni scored 15 points on 5 of 6 3-point shooting to lead Nigeria. He also added two rebounds in his 21 minutes of play. Oni's effort was enough to keep the Nigerians in the game for most of the contest, and even took an 8-point lead in the third quarter.
But with the score tied at 81 midway through the fourth, the Germans rolled off a 14-0 run to take control late.
Oni and Nigeria will finish off group play Friday against Italy.
Men's basketball: Australia 86, Italy 83
Utah Jazz wing Joe Ingles had 14 points, four rebounds and five assists in Australia's 86-83 win over Italy as the Boomers took control of Group B play.
But as good as Ingles was the court, he was, unsurprisingly, better in his post-game interview.
Upon being told that Italy's 25-year-old forward Simone Fontecchio, who had a game-high 22 points, said Ingles was one of his basketball idols, the Jazz forward was quick with an answer.
"I'm whose idol? Oh … he needs a better idol." Ingles said in his trademark deadpan response.
However, Ingles showed against the Italians why many people admire his game. In the second half, his playmaking provided Australia with a spark it needed after being down a point at halftime, and his two fourth-quarter 3s helped keep Fontecchio and the Italians at arms length.
Ingles was 5 of 11 from the field and hit a game-high four 3-pointers in the win.
Australia improved to 2-0 in Group B play and has clinched a spot in the knockout rounds.
Men's basketball: France 97, Czech Republic 77
Rudy Gobert and France remained unbeaten in Olympic play. Coming off an upset win over Team USA, the French rolled past the Czech Republic 97-77 in its second game of group play in Tokyo.
Gobert was 3 of 5 from the field for 6 points and had a game-high 10 rebounds in 21 minutes of play.
The Czech Republic went a stunning 8 for 9 from 3-point range in the first quarter to build a 28-22 lead. But after that, it was all France.
With the blowout win, the French wrapped up the top seed in Group A and have now forced Team USA to beat the Czech Republic later this week to ensure a spot in the quarterfinals.
Men's soccer: South Korea 6, Honduras 0
Real Salt Lake forward Douglas Martinez started and played 45 minutes as Los Catrachos were routed in their final match at the Olympic Games.
Hwang Ui-Jo and Won Du-Jae each scored a first-half penalty kick for South Korea in the first 19 minutes, and the rout was on.
Honduras returns home at the bottom of Group B, with one win, two losses and a minus-1 goal differential. South Korea won the group with six points, followed by New Zealand.
All times listed below are in MDT.
- Shooting: 25M pistol qualifying - Alexis Lagan, Utah alum (6 p.m.)
- Women's rugby sevens: USA vs. China - Jordan Matyas, BYU alum (6 p.m.)
- Women's basketball: Canada vs. South Korea - Kim Gaucher, Utah alum (7 p.m.)