FIVB - Women's Volleyball World Cup 2011


USA women join Italy at Olympic Games

Destinee Hooker and USA caught up with undefeated Italy today, handing them their first loss of the World Cup

Tokyo, Japan, November 17, 2011 – Beijing Olympic silver medallists USA knocked Italy off the top of the  FIVB Women’s World Cup points table and booked their ticket to the 2012 London Olympics after handing the defending champions their first defeat of the tournament with an outstanding 3-1 (25-23, 25-15, 22-25, 25-21) win at the Yoyogi Stadium on Thursday.

It’s a remarkable year for the 2010 and 2011 World Grand Prix champions having won 26 matches with only three defeats – to Serbia and Brazil at the World Grand Prix and Germany in the second round of the World Cup – and the win guarantees the US their best ever result in the World Cup after two third place finishes in 2003 and 2007 with their 26 points - one ahead of Italy with China in third place on 23 points - ensuring at least a top two finish,

With the top three teams in the tournament qualifying for the Olympic Games next year, the race is on for the third and final spot with Germany and Japan – both on 19 points - playing each other in the last match of the day.

For Italy, the defeat brings to an end a superb sequence of victories in the World Cup, numbering 20 to sit second on the overall record, ahead of China’s 17 (1977-1989) and behind Cuba’s 22 (1995, 1999 and 2003). The last time Italy had lost in a World Cup was against Brazil in 2003 in their final  match.
After their most difficult match of the tournament so far on Wednesday against Germany, Italy brought its perfect 9-0 recording against world No. 2 with neither team having been historically dominant over the other — Italy having a slight advantage of having won 13 of the past 25 matches. Momentum was on USA’s side though as they had won five of the last six meetings.

Women’s World Cup Results/Standings, Match Info, Photos or Live Scoring

Going into this match, Italy’s Carolina del Pilar Costagrande and America’s Destinee Hooker were tied for third in World Cup scoring with 152 points a piece. And while Costagrande won the scoring battle with 26 points, Hooker would win the war in this contest, as her 24 points were enough to lead her side to a win.

The teams started the first set point-for-point with Hooker picking up where she left off on the previous day (she had 37 against Germany), but Italy’s Simona Gioli countered posted a swift smash and a pair of blocks. Foluke Akinradewo gave USA a slight edge tipping down a stray Italy set to go up 11-8. Hooker followed later with a block on the explosive Costagrande that she would then tap down for a score keeping their lead. But Costagrande would bring Italy back with three straight points for her side late, including a spike after a spectacular run down by Italy libero Paola Croce. But her efforts were for nought as Gioli sailed a critical serve long to hand the Americans set point. Hooker took full advantage with a serve that nailed its mark, her second ace taking the opening set 25-23.

USA brought their momentum into the second with a pair of hard drives by Heather Bown to make it 8-4; including a shot that nailed Valentina Arrighetti in the chest, shaking her up, but she’d walk it off. Nevertheless, Italy looked frazzled, unable to find an answer for Hooker who kept attacking well for USA. Logan Tom sparked a run for the States, tip-toeing over a fallen Lindsey Berg for a dig that Jordan Larson would drive home, making it 13-9. The American’s didn’t look back from there as more from Larson and Hooker down the stretch let USA take it handily 25-15

In the third set, the world No. 2 edged ahead early as Akinradewo drove a furious spike past Gioli’s would-be block to go up 5-1. Gioli wouldn’t stand for that however, responding with a pair of drives out wide to keep her side in it. Arrighetti showed no ill effects of being hit earlier by pulling off a stunning block on Logan Tom to pull Italy within one at 11-10. The Italians would nudge ahead by one at 13-12 and keep that lead late as a huge Costagrande smash made it 21-18. A Tom ace brought USA within one, but the Italians would close it out 25-22.

Gioli was attacking well in the fourth set, putting her side up 13-11 with a hard drive. But a clever Tom tip over Arrighetti and down the sideline drew the Americans even at 13-13. That was the second point on a six point run that had Italy seeing double with two aces from Larson followed by two Berg blocks on Del Core on the win, helping them up 17-13. Costagrande put up a valiant fight with four enormous spikes, but America wouldn’t be denied, with Larson throwing down a trio of clutch spikes late to help take the set (25-21) and the match 3-1.

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