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USA come from behind to beat Puerto Rico

USA's Logan Tom overcomes the Puerto Rican blockers Aurea Cruz and Alexandra Oquendo with her fierce spike.

Bangkok, Thailand, August 15, 2010 - The USA underlined their supremacy over 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix Preliminary Pool D after making a clean sweep including a come-from-behind 3-1 (21-25 25-22 25-12 25-15) victory over Puerto Rico in the all-Norceca battle on Sunday in Bangkok.

With the win the USA move up to fifth as Puerto Rico slip to 11th in the rankings.

The USA got the first set off to a flying start to lead 7-2, thanks to Heather Bown's thundering fast spikes. However, the Puerto Ricans started to produce the goods . Powerful Sarai Alvarez hit like lightning, making the Beijing Olympic silver medallists flat-footed several times. With such great form, Puerto Rico scored five consecutive points to catch their rivals 7-7 and stormed on to capture a 16-12 lead. The USA coach Hugh McCutcheon asked for a time-out to improve his girls' tactics and form. His intentions were fruitful as the USA narrowed the margin to 19-21. Alvarez put Puerto Rico in front at 24-21 before Logan Tom's spike later on went wide. Puerto Rico stunned the former two-time champions to win the opening set 25-21.

The second set was hotly-contested from the beginning as both sides came up with offensive and defensive aggression, but the USA proved a class above their continental rivals to take a narrow 12-8 lead. Puerto Rico held their nerve and hit back strongly to come close at 21-23. Tom won a crucial point for the USA when she overcame the rivals' blocking with her exceptional spike. However, Puerto Rico just did not want to surrender easily. Karina Ocasio punctured the American defence with her kill to save one set point for her side. Still, Tom dashed out the rivals' hopes of survival when she dropped close to the net. The USA bagged the hard-fought set 25-22 however.

The USA played with more confidence in the third set as they mixed Tom's powerful hits with scintillating blocking by Destinee Hooker and Foluke Akinradewo. As the USA were leading 24-12 for good, Foluke leaped for a devastating spike to see out the set.

The fourth set was very close from the beginning with both sides playing aggresively right from the whistle. Holding a narrow 11-9 advantage, the USA did not look back and went on the attack, with Tom showing her talent to unleash a series of spectacular spikes. The USA won the set 25-15, again withthout much difficulty.

Next week the USA travel to Hong Kong to take on China, Germany and Thailand while Puerto Rico face Poland, Brazil and hosts Chinese Taipei.

  

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