BEIJING — After a several-year absence from the U.S. women's national volleyball program while trying her hand at beach volleyball, Logan Tom didn't wait for the call to return in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

No, she made the call herself to national team officials, with the former Highland High star and Stanford All-American offering her services and being welcomed back with open arms.

"I called them up and asked if they needed help and they said yes," said the 27-year-old Tom.

She gave up the sand, sun and outdoors just a week before the 2007 FIVB World Cup, quickly making her presence known as the leading hitter in six of the 11 matches and helping the Americans to both a bronze-medal finish and a Beijing Games berth.

For Tom, it's her third Olympics, becoming the youngest player ever to make the U.S. Olympic volleyball team as a 19-year-old outside hitter who became NBC's media darling during the 2000 Sydney Games as the Americans' thrilling medal run ended with disappointing losses in both the semifinals and the bronze-medal match.

The Athens experience in '04 wasn't any better, as the Americans finished 2-4 there en route to fifth place. With several national team members departing for different destinations after Athens, Tom continued to play professional indoors volleyball overseas while opting for the beach game during the pro offseason.

"They're completely different," said Tom of comparing the two. "The approach is different, the passing's different, the serving's different, the block's different."

Tom teamed with three-time Olympian Holly McPeak on the pro beach volleyball circuit and most recently played the 2007-08 pro indoor season with Russia's Club Dinamo Moscow.

As for her late 2007 return to the national indoor team, it wasn't scripted, and she wasn't alone.

"It wasn't really planned," Tom said. "I had a lot of friends on the team, and I heard they needed a little help on their side."

She and the likes of Danielle Scott-Arruda and Stacey Sykora returned to the fold as former Chinese great "Jenny" Lang Ping — known as "the Iron Hammer" when she helped her team to a gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and then coached China to the silver at the '96 Atlanta Games — was prepping to take her first U.S. team to the Olympics.

And even though the Beijing Olympics offers beach volleyball competition across town and Tom is back in the admittedly lackluster national-team route of "practice, eat and sleep," she's where she wants to be.

Back with the indoor Olympic team, hoping that the third time is the charm for her and her American teammates.

"I wouldn't trade this for anything," she said.

Not even for a summer Beijing day at the beach.


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