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Mormons in the Rio Olympics: Volleyball updates, a rugby bronze medalist & competing Friday

SHARE Mormons in the Rio Olympics: Volleyball updates, a rugby bronze medalist & competing Friday

The USA men’s volleyball team, including Brigham Young University alum and spiker Taylor Sander, beat the team from Brazil 3 matches to 1 in a late game Thursday. (See "BYU alum Taylor Sander and the U.S. men’s volleyball team upset Brazil in must-win match" by Deseret News reporter Amy Donaldson, who is in Rio.)

Now, the USA team is 1-2 in the preliminary pool play and has two more games. Sander is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Their next game in the preliminary pool games is Saturday against France, and they are scheduled to play Mexico on Monday.

Beach volleyball

With a loss to Spain on Wednesday, beach volleyball duo Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson didn’t advance to the elimination bracket.

“We fought. That’s what we do. That’s what this team does,” Jake Gibb, a Bountiful resident, told Donaldson. (See "Gibb, Patterson watch medal hopes slip away in beach volleyball.") “That’s what we’ve done for four years together. We fight. And we gave it everything we have."


More Mormons competing in the Olympics

Here are nine more members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were named to Olympic teams, including rugby sevens back Ashley Steacy, who was part of the bronze-winning Canada team.


Rugby sevens: Akalaini “Bui” Baravilala, 25, a native of Honolulu, who played basketball and volleyball in high school, according to usarugby.org

In pool play, the USA women lost to Fiji and also beat Colombia and tied top-seeded Australia. The USA women advanced to the quarterfinals and lost their first game 5-0 to New Zealand. They then beat Fiji and France to take fifth in the tournament.

Rugby sevens: Provo native Maka Unufe, 24, played football at Provo High School. The 6- foot-2 player joined a Utah rugby team and has risen quickly in the sport. (See Donaldson’s "Provo native Maka Unufe went from high school dropout to Olympian inspired by his family" on deseretnews.com.)

The USA men’s team placed ninth overall. In the preliminary pool play, the USA men’s team lost to Argentina 14-17, beat Brazil 26-0 and lost to Fiji 24-19. In the tournament, they beat Brazil 24-12 and Spain 24-12 to take ninth.

Water polo: Sami Hill, 24, of Santa Barbara, California, is a UCLA graduate and is the goalkeeper for the USA water polo team.

In pool play, the USA women beat Spain 11-4 on Tuesday, Aug. 9, and China 12-4 on Thursday. They are scheduled to play Hungary on Saturday, Aug. 13.


Rugby sevens: Ashley Steacy, 29, of Lethbridge, Alberta, started playing when she was 15 and since has played on several of Canada’s teams in international competitions, including the gold-medal team at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, according to olympic.ca

And she now has an Olympic bronze medal to add to that collection. In the preliminary pool, the Canada women beat Japan 45-0 and Brazil 38-0 on Aug. 6, and lost to Great Britain 22-0 on Aug. 7. In the quarterfinals, they won 15-5 against the team from France. In the semifinals on Aug. 8, they lost 17-5 to the Australians and beat the British women 33-10 to take the bronze medal.

Gymnastics: Jackson Payne, 24, served a two-year mission in Korea and studies kinesiology at the University of Alberta, according to olympics.cbc.ca.

The Canadian men’s gymnastics team didn’t qualify for the Rio Olympics, they sent gymnast Scott Morgan and named Payne the alternate, according to gymcan.org.


Rowing: Rio is the third Olympics for 30-year-old Lucia Palermo, who is competing in the women’s single sculls. She was 21st overall in the 2012 London Games. She took bronze in the 2015 Pan American Games.

In Rio, she was fifth in her six-person heat on Saturday, Aug. 6, and qualified for the repechage race. In the Monday, Aug. 8, she came in second of four in her heat and competed in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Aug. 9. She now moves to the semifinals for the C/D group, which was rescheduled to Friday, Aug. 12.


Soccer/football: Rio is the second Olympics for Bruna Beatriz Benites Soares, who is a defender for the Brazilian team. In 2012 in London, she was part of the team that went to the semifinals, but lost to Japan, which went on to win silver. The 30-year-old was baptized in 2000, according to this blog’s feature on her.

In the preliminary pool rounds, the Brazilian team was the top team in their four-team pool, winning their first match 3-0 against China on Aug. 3, beating Sweden 5-1 on Aug. 6 and tying the team from South Africa 0-0 on Aug. 9. Soares played in the game against South Africa. The Brazil women’s team is moving to the quarterfinals and will play Australia on Friday, Aug. 12.


Basketball: University of Utah alumna Leilani Mitchell, 31, has played in the WNBA since 2008 and in Australia’s WNBL during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. Her mother is an Australian native and the 5-foot-5-inch point guard was born in Richland, Washington, according to wnba.com.

In preliminary pool play, the Australians won 84-66 against Brazil, 61-56 against Turkey, 89-71 against France, and 92-86 versus Japan. They play Belarus on Saturday, Aug. 13.


Track and field: This is the second Olympics for 23-year-old sprinter Patricia Taea of Rarotonga, Cook Islands, and she had a personal best time in the 2012 London Games.

The women’s 100-meter preliminary round is Friday, Aug. 12.


Competing Friday

• Two-time shot put gold medalist Valerie Adams of New Zealand goes for a third one as the track and field events open today. She is at the top of the 12 women advancing to this evening’s final.

• Sprinter Patricia Taea of the Cook Islands competes in the 100-meter preliminary round.

• Argentine rower Lucia Palermo competes in her group’s semifinals, which were rescheduled from earlier this week.

• The Brazilian women’s soccer team, including Bruna Beatriz Benites Soares, play Australia in the quarterfinals.


On social media

USA racewalker John Nunn tweeted a photo of the United States' track and field team, writing that it's "Such an honor to be a part of this amazing team. I love these people like family."

Weightlifter Sarah Robles shared a lighthearted photo on Instagram of a "useless talent."


Email: rappleye@deseretnews.com, Twitter: CTRappleye