Unlike most other team sports, men’s volleyball is not exactly a strength with Team USA. Historically, the USA has collected the third-most golds in volleyball and the most in beach volleyball. But the last two Olympics have seen less-than-ideal results.
As a consequence, you will find Team USA as underdogs in the Olympic betting, if they’re even on the board.
Volleyball Over Beach Volleyball: Team USA’s Odds
If we’re going by the online sportsbook’s odds, the men’s volleyball team has a better shot at winning the gold or even finishing on the podium than the two beach volleyball pairs.
Team USA is tied with France at fifth at +600 to win the indoor event while both Jacob Gibb and Taylor Crabb and Nicholas Lucena and Phil Dalhausser are not even listed in the beach volleyball side.
Of all the players, only Dalhausser has won a gold medal in the Olympics, though that came 13 years ago back in 2008. The volleyball team is 8-7 in 2021 and is ranked 3rd in the world.
Both sides will look to bring back gold for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The men’s volleyball team will return several players from the 2016 squad that finished third. Captain David Lee has retired and outside hitter Taylor Sander takes over in his stead. Sander led the 2016 tournament with the best receiving rate at 48.8% followed by teammate Erik Shoji (45.2%) who is also returning.
Other notables to return are setter Micah Christenson, middle blocker Maxwell Holt, and outside spiker Aaron Russell. Christenson had the best setting average in 2016 at 10.97 while Holt and Russell were given individual awards for their positions.
John Speraw remains coach of the US Men’s National Team and is going into his eighth year. Other than the Olympic bronze medal, he has guided the team to a bronze in the 2019 World Cup and a second-place finish at the Volleyball Nations League final.
The continuity here should help USA, although several teams could block their path. Poland is the chalk here at +220 having captured the 2018 World Championship while securing a bronze in both the 2019 European Championship and Nations League.
The defending champions Brazil come second at +300. This perennial powerhouse dominated the South American Championships before winning the 2021 Nations League. Brazil has finished in the top-two in each of the last four Olympics and the USA lost to them in pool play in 2016.
The US opens its tournament against France. The betting lines have this dead-even. And it doesn’t get easier for the team as they are in the tougher of the two pools with opponents like Brazil, the ROC and 2019 Pan American Champions, Argentina.
Still, there is plenty of top talent in the team and the wealth of experience from 2016 can only help bolster this team’s chances. The USA is a solid Olympic betting pick and has a realistic shot at getting gold, but its margin for error is small.
Beach Volleyball Men’s
If the men’s team have a tough group to contend with, the same can be doubly said for both American pairs on the beach volleyball side. Lucena and Dalhausser will be in the same group as FIVB’s fourth-ranked pair of Alison and Alvaro of Brazil and sixth-ranked pair of Dutch Brouwer and Meeuwsen, representing the Netherlands.
Lucena and Dalhausser are +230 underdogs against Brouwer and Meeuwsen in their opening game. They could lose both games and have to play in the Lucky loser playoffs for a spot in the round of 16.
Gibb and Crabb find themselves in a slightly softer group with Qatar’s Cherif and Ahmed, the third-ranked FIVB pair, as their toughest opponent. Still, Gibb and Crabb can’t afford to be upset by Italy’s Carambula and Rossi in their opening match. They are -225 betting favorites.
If Gibb and Crabb win two matches, they will avoid having to play in the playoffs and will automatically make the round of 16.
It would be a monumental moment if any of these American pairs can find a way to capture the gold for this 25th anniversary of beach volleyball, which started in Atlanta.