Technically speaking, the game was meaningless.
The U.S. women's volleyball team locked up the top seed in the elimination round, but that didn't matter Sunday as the team overcame a slow start to sweep Turkey, 27-25, 25-16, 25-19, at Earls Court in London.
"To me, one of the important characteristics of a great team is how they perform when there is nothing on the line," said U.S. Olympic Women's Volleyball Team head coach Hugh McCutcheon. "I thought our team really honored the moment of competition tonight. Like the true Olympians they are, they came and battled tonight. I am really proud of that and happy with the performance. I think we even got a little better tonight in a few areas. That is what we are always trying to do with each match — get better."
Their starting setter and team captain, Lindsey Berg, may have been a casualty of the battle, but it will take time and further evaluations by doctors to determine just how serious the setter's injury is. It was serious enough to see her leave with the score 9-4 for Team USA in the third set.
She told medical staff at the arena that she heard a pop and watched her teammates close out their final match in pool play from the sideline with a bag of ice taped to her lower leg and ankle.
Backup setter Courtney Thompson of Washington came in and the team didn't seem to miss a beat.
"We played for ourselves," Berg said in regards to having already qualified as the top seed into the quarterfinals regardless of tonight's match. "We didn't want to dilly-dally because there would be no benefit in that. We needed to keep in our rhythm."
After the match, McCutcheon said the team would miss Berg not just for her superior setting skills, but also for the leadership she provides.
"We think she's okay," he said. "We're going to get a more thorough evaluation as soon as possible and we'll see after that. She's a big part of us; she's not only our captain, but our setter, so we'll see what the doctors say."
The match was a must-win for Turkey, but it was the U.S. that played with urgency. The victory keeps the Americans unbeaten in Olympic play (now 5-0), have won 12 consecutive matches, and are 28-1 in international competition in 2012.
Highland High alum Logan Tom was somewhat of a target for the Turkish team in the first two sets of the match. Turkey's servers seemed to serve to Tom most of the time, but the native Utahn, who played professionally in Turkey last year, handled the extra pressure with her usual grit and grace.
In fact, the match showed off most of the Stanford graduates solid all-around skill set.
Team USA fell behind 13-7 in the first set, but then went on an 11-3 run to take a 17-16 lead, in large part thanks to the offense of Destinee Hooker. The Texas native finished with a match-high 19 points on 17 kills and two blocks. Middle hitter Foluke Akinradewo of Florida, added nine kills on 12 attacks and five blocks.
Tom finished with five kills and a block. Tom also served extremely well for the U.S.
"We have got better with each of the five matches," said Team USA five-time Olympian Danielle Scott-Arruda (Baton Rouge, La.). "Turkey came out strong, but we were able to regroup whenever we went behind. I've played in four overseas Olympic Games and never heard such huge support from American followers in the crowd — it's given us a great lift."
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