Andria, August 3, 2003 - The USA prevailed 3-0 over a gritty Dutch side on Sunday to take third place at the 2003 World Grand Prix here in southern Italy.
The Americans took the match 25-22, 25-20 and 28-26 after a commendable fight by the younger and more slightly built Dutch team that hung on and kept fighting until the last whistle. The Dutch also can be well pleased with their result here in Italy and fought their way to the final round with some commendable tiebreaker victories against Italy, Cuba, Korea and Germany.
USA made a solid start with Scott and Phipps deadly in spiking and consolidating the block to shut out the more slightly built Dutch players. The tactic let them dominate the opening phase
and with the additional blocking skills of Logan Tom and Nancy Metcalf, they advanced to an 11-8 lead.
The Dutch got within two points thanks to blocks by Francien Huurman and Ingrid Visser.
USA showed their prowess in the final phase and found empty Dutch court for two vital points to take them to 23-19. Then a long shot by Elles Leferink gave the USA set point. Huurman drove home a great spike just inside the net to defend and Netherlands pulled back to within two points. Then she aimed long and the USA were one set in front at 25-22
The Dutch looked more comfortable in the second and the score was level at 7-all. The USA surged ahead four points. But then some well placed shots and good tactics allowed the Netherlands back at 13-all. But in the end it was big hitting, big blocking - and reinforcement by the lofty 201cm Tayyiba Haneef in the final minutes - that won the set for the USA 25-20.
Huurman and Visser combined well to fend off the USA attack.
Huurman, who has appeared out of sorts in recent matches wound up on a high note and although she was not able to prevent the USA taking the third set, she was instrumental in extending them to 28-26.
Italy plays Korea in the next match and the competition concludes with a battle for first place in this round robin format tournament between titleholders Russia and China.