After losing to the Dominican Republic just once in 25 previous meetings in volleyball, the United States women didn't expect any problems beating the first-time Olympians.
But a sluggish start by the Americans, some Dominican determination and, of course, the rally-scoring system -- volleyball's great equalizer -- all added up to a big upset.
Milagros Cabral de la Cruz had the match-winning kill in the fifth set, giving the Dominican Republic a 26-24, 22-25, 27-25, 23-25, 19-17 victory yesterday.
"We just put ourselves in a very, very difficult situation," U.S. Coach Toshi Yoshida said.
Dropping to 1-2, the U.S. faces sixth-place Russia on Friday and fifth-place Cuba on Sunday to close the first round of the tournament. The top four in the six-team pool advance.
The U.S. team could still make the medal round even by losing one of its next two matches, but it risks an undesirable quarterfinal matchup with Pool A leaders Brazil or Italy. The best bet, of course, would be winning the next two, making for a more favorable matchup and some needed momentum.
"We just have to take care of our team and hope that it will fall into place," reserve outside hitter Ogonna Nnamani said.
Tayyiba Haneef led the Americans with 20 points on 18 kills and two aces, and Logan Tom added 16 kills. Cabral de la Cruz scored 21 points, and Yudelkys Bautista had 15 kills and five blocks for the Dominicans.
In the fourth set, Tom's spike attempt glanced off Bautista's forearm and into the net to even the match at 2-2 after the Dominicans fended off set point three times.
Reaching match point twice in the fifth set, the Americans couldn't put it away. De la Cruz wound up and spiked the winner off a diving Nnamani.
"We are all very happy," Dominican libero Evelyn Carrera Pichardo said through a translator. "We played very aggressively, and we showed the people a wonderful match.
"We fought each point. We had faith until the end. . . . We do not feel inferior toward any other teams."
U.S. goalkeeper Jackie Frank dipped underwater to think. She resurfaced wondering if the blur of the previous six minutes really happened. It did.
Canada fired five unanswered goals past Frank in the last 51/2 minutes to edge the world champion United States, 6-5.
"I thought, 'Wow! What just happened?' " she said.
Losing was bad enough. The way it happened was unprecedented.
"From 5-1, no, we've never lost from there," said captain Heather Moody, a U.S. representative since 1996. "It's hard, but it's the Olympics and that's the way it works -- it happens."
Moody is one of seven players on the squad who won silver in Sydney. The Americans lost twice in that tournament, both to Australia; first in the preliminaries, then 4-3 in the final.
The Americans have become the dominant team since, earning the No. 1 ranking by winning seven of the past eight tournaments. They came into the Games as the favorites and opened with a 7-6 win against the Hungarians.
Canada hadn't beaten the United States in more than a year. The Canadians were fourth at the last world championships and fifth at the last Olympics.
U.S. Coach Guy Baker said his team had to regroup and concentrate on tomorrow's match against Russia, which could determine who finishes No. 1 in Group B and gains a semifinal spot. The second- and third-ranked teams in each group go into quarterfinal playoffs.
South Korea's Park Sung Hyun defeated countrywoman Lee Sung Jin in the final at Panathinaiko Stadium.
Tied at 100 after 11 shots, Park scored a 10 with her final arrow. Lee was unable to answer, scoring an 8, to give Park the gold.
Britain's Alison Williamson, competing in her fourth Olympics, defeated Taiwan's Yuan Shu-chi to win the bronze medal.
A pair of Japanese league veterans helped Australia down Japan, 9-4, barely an hour after Japan beat Cuba.
Jeff Williams had the save for Australia, pitching three innings and striking out three. The pitcher for the Hanshin Tigers has been one of the best closers in Japanese baseball over the past two years. Australia trailed 4-3 after five innings, but scored three runs apiece in the seventh and eighth.
Valentina Vezzali beat longtime teammate Giovanna Trillini, 15-11, to win the gold medal in foil in a matchup of Italian greats.
Vezzali won her fourth Olympic fencing gold, equaling the most won by a woman. The silver was Trillini's seventh Olympic medal, tying her for tops among women's fencers. Trillini also has four golds.
Sylwia Gruchala of Poland beat Aida Mohamed of Hungary, 15-9, to win the bronze.
Two-time defending champion Masae Ueno earned Japan's fifth gold medal in 10 judo events, extending her three-year undefeated streak in major international competition.
"I lost the gold medal in Sydney and I had to wait a long time to try again," Ueno said after defeating Edith Bosch of the Netherlands.
Missing from the competition was defending world silver medalist Regla Zulueta, who could not compete after defecting to the United States last year from Cuba.
The bronze was shared by Annett Boehm of Germany and Qin Dongya of China.
On the men's side, Ueno's teammate Hiroshi Izumi wound up with silver when he lost in the men's 90kg title match to Zurab Zviadauri of Georgia. Khasanbi Taov of Russia took a bronze, along with Mark Huizinga of Netherlands.
Portugal was bundled out of the men's soccer tournament after a humiliating 4-2 defeat by Costa Rica.
Morocco's 2-1 victory over Iraq in the other Group D match ensured co-favorite Portugal became the biggest casualty of the first round.
Iraq, which also beat Portugal, 4-2, in their match, finished atop Group D with six points despite losing to Morocco.
It will now play Australia in Saturday's quarterfinals; Costa Rica will meet Argentina.
Jennie Finch pitched a one-hitter with eight strikeouts and Lisa Fernandez went 3 for 4 with a home run as the United States recorded its fifth straight shutout, beating Canada, 7-0, to clinch a spot in this weekend's semifinals.
Crystl Bustos and Fernandez homered for the two-time defending gold medal-winning U.S. squad, which has outscored its opponents, 31-0.