By Toby Davis
LONDON (Reuters) - After successive defeats in Olympic finals, Saturday represented the end of an era for the United States women's volleyball team who are set for sweeping changes before they begin their campaign in Rio in four years time.
After one hour and 40 minutes of high-octane action, it was Brazil and their samba support act in the stands who were celebrating, just as they did four years ago in Beijing.
Five of Saturday's crestfallen U.S. squad had suffered that defeat in China and how many of their team make it to Brazil to take on their conquerors on their own turf is uncertain.
Coach Hugh McCutcheon will not be there and nor will charismatic captain Lindsey Berg.
"I won't be there in Rio, I've given my heart and soul for three Olympics and I'm done now," an emotional Berg told reporters as she stifled the sobs.
"I will be cheering in Rio but not playing. I'm happy with what I've done, it's been incredible.
"I never imagined I would have played in three Olympics. One girl in high school, said I would play in the Olympics and I didn't believe her. It's incredible and I've loved every minute of it...
"I have no regrets I've given my heart and soul to everything I've done with the team."
Berg is one of five members of the U.S. team who are already in their 30s, while Danielle Scott-Arruda will turn 40 in October.
For New Zealander coach McCutcheon, who had tasted Olympic gold with the U.S. men's team in Beijing, Saturday's defeat was his cue to step away and take up a college coaching job at Minnesota.
"This is the end of the road for me here in the international arena," he told reporters.
"It has been an unbelievable journey and I feel privileged to have been able to do the things I have done and work with the athletes that I have done.
"If they need me I will always be here. USA volleyball is in my blood. I am not going to make another campaign but if I could come and help whoever is going to take over I would be willing."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)