If Sunday's FIVB Grand Prix contest is any indication, the United States' women's national volleyball team may find itself in heavy medals come time for the London Olympics two years hence.
The Americans beat Japan, 26-24, 25-20, 25-23, on the final day of the Grand Prix in Ningbao, China to clinch the gold medal in the event for the first time since 2001.
Stanford grads Logan Tom and Foluke Akinradewo each added 10 points to the victory. Tom had nine kills and an ace while Akinradewo recorded five kills, four blocks and an ace.
Akinradewo finished the competition as the top-rated middle blocker, a familiar spot for the former All-American. She left Stanford with the highest career hitting percentage, while also leading the nation in her senior year.
"I think tonight we can find a place to celebrate," U.S. team captain Jennifer Tamas said. "When we go back home, we will work harder to become even better for the next tournament."
It's been an impressive summer for coach Hugh McCutcheon and his team. The U.S. earned medals in all three of its 2010 tournaments, including a silver medal at the 26th Montreux Volley Masters and the bronze medal at the Pan American Cup, both played in June.
"I'm really proud of the team, not only for winning this tournament, but also for the way they were playing," said McCutcheon, who coached the U.S. men's Olympic team to a gold medal on Beijing. "I'm very happy with our performance at the tournament. This is a great start for us, but we clearly know we need to make improvements."
The Americans have won their past 11 FIVB matches, and will play a series of friendly matches against host Brazil, which had won the previous two FIVB Grand Prix gold medals, next month.
Stanford grad Matt Fuerbringer and teammate Nick Lucena won the men's bronze medal Sunday at the $380,000 Milner Open in The Hague, Netherlands, part of the SWATCH FIVB World Tour.
Americans' Casey Jennings and Kevin Wong won the gold medal while Angie Akers and Tyra Turner took the women's bronze medal.
Fuerbringer and Lucena defeated 10th-seeded Emiel Boersma and Daan Spijkers of The Netherlands, 21-19, 15-21, 15-8 in 56 minutes. Fuerbringer and Lucena shared $15,000 for claiming their second medal this season.
Jennings reached his second FIVB World Tour championship, though winning beach volleyball tournaments is nothing new in his family. His wife is Olympic gold medalist and Stanford grad Kerri Walsh.