The United States women's national volleyball team will enter the final round of the FIVB Grand Prix on a high note after beating China, 25-20, 25-10, 22-25, 25-22, Sunday before more than 10,000 fans in the final preliminary match in Hong Kong.
"We expected a difficult match and China did not disappoint," U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon said. "They started a bit slow today, but Set 3 and Set 4 were real battles. Our athletes were excited to play against such great players."
The Americans join host China, defending Grand Prix champion Brazil, Poland, Japan and Italy in the Final Round, which begins Wednesday in Ningbo.
"China is one of the best teams in the world," U.S. team captain Jennifer Tamas said. "It was challenging to score. We hope to become better players and perform to our potential when we meet China in the finals."
The U.S. entered the match as the world's No. 4 team. China is ranked second, with Brazil holding the top spot.
"It was good preparation for Ningbo," McCutcheon said. "We will meet again in the finals and the winner of next match depends on which team performs better."
Texas grad Destinee Hooker led the Americans with 20 kills on 44 attempts. Akinradewo produced a .556 hitting percentage. Cardinal grad Logan Tom had five kills, three aces, seven digs and 18 excellent receptions.
Hooker finished with 157 points, third most in the preliminaries. Akinradewo was 12th with 105 points. Akinradewo was third in blocking with 32 total and an average of 0.97 per set.
The U.S. opens against Poland on Wednesday at the Ningbo Beilun Gym. The Americans meet Italy on Thursday and Brazil on Friday.
The U.S. Men's Junior National Team won the NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship, defeating Canada, 25-14, 25-19, 25-16, in the gold medal match at the Centre-Sportif de Gatineau in Quebec on Saturday night.
The U.S. (5-0) and Canada (4-1) both qualified for the 2011 FIVB Men's Junior World Championships in Brazil.
Stanford incoming freshman Brian Cook was used as a substitute.
"This victory means absolutely everything to us," said U.S. opposite Maurice Torres, who led the U.S. with 14 points on nine kills, one block and a match-high four aces. "There's nothing more you can do than win a gold medal. We play as a team. There's not one or two of us; there's 12 of us. That's the best system you can have."
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