U.S. women steam into volleyball semifinals

By Anne M. Peterson

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 7 2012 11:24 p.m. MDT

United States' Jordan Larson, left, and Foluke Akinradewo, right, block a spike from Dominican Republic's Bethania de la Cruz de Pena during a women's quarterfinal volleyball match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Associated Press

LONDON — Destinee Hooker threw her arms around teammate Courtney Thompson in celebration after the U.S. women's volleyball team defeated the Dominican Republic to advance to the semifinals at the London Olympics.

Thompson started at setter in the straight-set victory over the Dominicans after team captain Lindsey Berg injured her left ankle in the previous match.

Often during timeouts, Berg pulled Thompson aside to confer.

"It was great, I had fun and I was thankful," said Thompson, who is playing in her first Olympics. "My teammates are amazing."

"Courtney's a quarterback," Hooker said. "She went out there and took control of the game. She knows our rhythm and it was great to have her on the court."

The Americans remained undefeated in six matches at the London Olympics with the 25-14, 25-21, 25-22 sweep of the Dominicans.

The top-ranked U.S. will play South Korea in Thursday's semifinals. Japan and Brazil face off in the other match.

Berg's status is uncertain. The Americans are not revealing too much about the injury because it would give their opponents a competitive advantage.

"It's day to day," coach Hugh McCutcheon said. "I thought Courtney did a great job. I don't think we missed too many beats tonight."

Hooker scored 19 points for the U.S., which has never won a gold in indoor volleyball. The team took silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after falling in the final to Brazil.

Highland High graduate Logan Tom earned four kills and an ace, but it was her defense on the back row that really helped the U.S. She finished with a team high 14 digs and added 11 excellent receptions in passing.

The Americans jumped to a 12-3 lead and rolled through the first set, winning it on Foluke Akinradewo's block.

While clearly overmatched, the Dominican Republic took an 8-6 lead in the second set. The U.S. regained the lead when Hooker's spike made it 11-10. The Dominicans denied the U.S. set point three times, but Jordan Larson spiked to win it.

The U.S. took an 18-12 lead on Christa Harmotto's spike, but the Dominicans closed to 19-18 before the Americans won it on Bethania de la Cruz de Pena's misplayed kill.

Now playing under McCutcheon, who led the U.S. men to the gold in Beijing, the United States is among the favorites in the tournament. The Americans took over the top spot in the world rankings at the end of 2011, ending Brazil's four-year run.

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