Hooker, U.S. Women one win away from Grand Prix Gold
Aug. 27, 2011
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team is one win away from defending its FIVB World Grand Prix title as former Longhorn Destinee Hooker scored 20 points in leading the Americans over Serbia 25-22, 25-20, 25-21 on Saturday during the FIVB World Grand Prix semifinal round being held in Macau, China.
The U.S., ranked second in the FIVB world ranking and defending FIVB World Grand Prix champions in the premier annual international volleyball tournament, will now play top-ranked Brazil in the gold-medal match on Sunday at 3:40 p.m. local time (12:40 a.m. Pacific Time). Brazil, undefeated in the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix with only three set losses, blanked Russia 26-24, 25-17, 25-23 in the first semifinal match of the day. Brazil, which defeated the U.S. 22-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-20 in the last match of the Final Round pool play on Aug. 26, will be in search of its ninth FIVB World Grand Prix title in the 19th running of the annual event.
The U.S. has won all three of its FIVB World Grand Prix titles in China, including the last time the Final Round was held in Macau in 2001. Other Team USA World Grand Prix titles were won last year in Ningbo and in 1995 in Shanghai. The Americans have also won two FIVB World Grand Prix bronze medals in 2003 and 2004 in Final Rounds held in Italy.
Earlier in the FIVB World Grand Prix preliminary round, Team USA and Serbia split a pair of matches. The Americans defeated the Serbians 25-22, 25-19, 23-25, 20-25, 15-10 to begin the tournament on Aug. 5 in Luohe, China. Serbia, playing in its first-ever FIVB World Grand Prix event, came back the following weekend to defeat the U.S. 25-12, 17-25, 25-23, 25-15 on Aug. 14 in Komaki, Japan.
The U.S. used a 4-0 run to take a 19-14 lead in the opening set and held on for a 25-22 victory. Team USA broke a 13-all tie in the second set with a 4-1 scoring run and ended the period with the final three points at 25-20. Hooker provided eight points in the period, including four of the team’s seven blocks. The Americans broke a 10-all tie in the third set with a 6-1 run thanks to five Serbia errors to go into the second technical timeout leading 16-11, only to have Serbia rally to tie the set at 20-all. However, the U.S. scored five of the final six points to close out the set 25-21 as Serbia committed 10 errors in the third set.
Hooker totaled her 20 points via 15 kills on 37 attacks and match-high five blocks. Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) added 10 kills on 19 errorless attacks, one block and one ace for 12 points. Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.) contributed 10 points with six kills on 13 swings, three blocks and an ace. Jordan Larson (Hooper, Neb.) scored five kills on 18 attacks, while Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) added four kills on seven attacks and a block. Lindsey Berg (Honolulu) rounded out the scoring with a kill.
“The feelings are mutual, the Serbian team is a very strong team,” U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon (Christchurch, New Zealand) said. “They had a remarkable run at this tournament to be here in the semifinal. They played wonderful volleyball for the whole four weeks. From the start today we knew it would be a difficult match. On our side we think we applied strong pressure from the service line, which enabled us to get our blockers and defense into some good positions. We are very happy to win, and obviously the focus is on tomorrow’s final. I am happy with the performance tonight, and I hope we can build on that tomorrow.”
Berg was credited with 15 assists on 72 set attempts to help the Americans convert 43.2 percent of its attacks into points with a .379 hitting efficiency an only five errors (41-5-95). In contrast, Serbia converted 37.4 percent of its attacks as part of a .235 hitting efficiency (43-16-115).
Larson secured 12 excellent receptions on 27 total service receptions while adding four digs, both team highs. Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.) added four excellent receptions and three digs.
“I think it is a good win for USA,” U.S. Women’s National Team captain Jennifer Tamas (Milpitas, Calif.) said. “Tonight every player on the team had a goal of playing as hard as we could. We wanted to get to the final. Our goal for this tournament is to get better as a team, and I think tonight we accomplished that. I think we looked better today. It is a good win.”
McCutcheon started Tom and Larson at outside hitter, Akinradewo and Bown at middle blocker, Hooker at opposite and Berg at setter. Davis was the libero for the match. Alisha Davis (Leland, Mich.) was a sub in the third set.
Team USA held a commanding 10-3 advantage in blocks and Serbia committed 22 errors in the match to the Americans’ 12 errors. Serbia held a 5-2 margin in aces a slim 43-41 advantage in kills.
Jovana Brakocevic led Serbia with 19 points all on kills. Sanja Malgurski chipped in 16 points on 11 kills, three blocks and two aces in the loss.
“USA played really well tonight,” Serbia coach Zoran Terzic said. “I am satisfied with the way we played. We played three times against the USA, and all three times we played well, but the quality of USA was better tonight and that was it. I have a lot of respect for the USA team, not only for the quality of the players, but also their attitude and the coaches. It is a big thing for us to play against them at this level. I hope we can play another good game tomorrow against Russia for third place.”
Earlier today, Italy defeated China 25-13, 14-25, 22-25, 25-16, 15-10 in the seventh-place match. Japan topped Thailand 25-14, 25-23, 25-23 to claim fifth place in the FIVB World Grand Prix.
For more information on the U.S. Women's National Team in the FIVB World Grand Prix, visit the team's event page at usavolleyball.org/events/7901.
The U.S. took a 3-1 lead in the opening set with three Serbian errors, only to have Serbia tie the set at 3-all with an ace. Team USA used a 4-0 run to take an 8-4 lead into the first technical timeout with kills from Bown, Hooker and Tom around a Serbia error. Serbia scored five of the next six points to knot the score at 9-all. The Americans regained a two-point edge at 12-10 with an Akinradewo kill and Tom ace. However, Serbia scored its own kill and ace combination to tie the set at 12-all. Tom followed a Serbia error with a kill to take the U.S. in front 14-12. Logan Tom hammered a kill between two Serbia errors to yield an 18-14 lead. Out of a timeout, Bown put up a block to extend the lead to 19-14. Serbia cut the lead to 19-16 with back-to-back points. After trading points to 24-20, Serbia saved two set points forcing a U.S. timeout at 24-22. Team USA ended the set with a Berg second-touch kill at 25-22. Hooker scored seven points to lead the Americans, while Tom added six points.
Serbia scored three unanswered points to take a 3-1 lead in the second set. The U.S. tied the set at 4-all with an Akinradewo kill and Serbia error. Serbia came back to score the next two points for a 6-4 advantage. The U.S. responded with a Hooker block and Larson kill to knot the score at 6-all. Serbia went into the first technical timeout leading 8-6 with back-to-back points. Larson served an ace after a Serbia service error to level the score at 8-all. The U.S. took the lead at 11-9 with a Hooker kill and blocks by Tom and Akinradewo. Hooker contributed a kill and block on consecutive plays to extend the American lead to 13-10 at a Serbia timeout. Out of the break Serbia connected on two aces after a kill to tie the score at 13-all. Hooker picked up back-to-back blocks to provide Team USA a 15-13 advantage. Akinradewo and Larson scored kills on each side of the second technical timeout to extend the lead to 17-14 at Serbia’s second timeout. Akinradewo served consecutive aces after she hammered a kill to give the U.S. the victory at 25-20. Hooker totaled eight points in the third set including four blocks, while Akinradewo added seven points. The U.S. collected seven blocks in the set.
Team USA reached the third set’s first technical timeout leading 8-7 as the period featured four lead changes and seven ties up to the break with neither team able to gain a two-point lead. After 10 ties, the U.S. scored three unanswered points on Serbia errors to gain a 13-10 cushion. The Americans extended their lead to 16-11 with two straight Serbia errors and Bown kill heading into the second technical timeout. Serbia sliced the deficit to 18-16 with three consecutive points leading to an American timeout. Serbia served an ace off the net to close to within one at 19-18. Serbia knotted the set at 20-all with an ace. Team USA returned to a two-point cushion at 22-20 with a Hooker kill and Serbia attack error. Out of Serbia’s second timeout, it hit long to lift the U.S. in front 23-20. Larson and Tom ended the set and match with consecutive kills at 25-21.