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Phoenix's Sarah Sponcil, partner out of Tokyo Olympics after controversial call

Sponcil and her teammate, Kelly Claes, lost the match 22-24, 21-18, 15-13 that culminated in what became a controversial call by the match's referee.

TOKYO, Japan — Editor's note: The above video aired during a previous broadcast.

Phoenix's Sarah Sponcil is out of the Tokyo Olympics after a controversial call gave the win to Canada during the Round of 16 volleyball tournament at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Sponcil and her teammate, Kelly Claes, lost the match 22-24, 21-18, 15-13 that culminated in what became a controversial call by the match's referee.

After losing the first set and falling behind 10-4 in the second, the Canadians rallied to force a tiebreaking third set, first to 15 (must win by two points). They led 12-11 when Sponcil’s serve went past them and bounced off the sand.

The linesman’s ruling was that the ball was out, but the Americans challenged the call, using a system that was used in the Olympics for the first time in Rio de Janeiro. The close-up, slow-motion replay on the stadium video board showed the ball had clearly missed the blue tape that signifies the court boundary.

It was out.

But somewhere in the process of getting that information to the court, there was a glitch: The video board said the ball was out and the challenge was successful, which isn’t possible. A member of the Canadian delegation sitting in the mostly empty arena shouted, “It was out!”

The players complained to the referee, and the stadium announcer explained that the challenge would be reviewed again. The call was corrected, and instead of a 12-12 tie it was 13-11, with Canada leading.

The Phoenix native and hometown hero was making her mark on the 2020 Olympics while being a part of one of two U.S. women's beach volleyball teams with perfect streaks before the loss to Canada.

RELATED: Phoenix's own Sarah Sponcil still undefeated in Tokyo Olympics

Sponcil and Claes also made Olympics world history after the pair won the fastest Olympic match of women's beach volleyball ever since the International Olympics Committee adopted the sport's current format.

RELATED: Phoenix-native Olympian Sarah Sponcil makes Olympic history as family, friends watch from home

Reporting from the Associated Press contributed to this article.

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