The second-ranked United States women's national volleyball team downed No. 8 Dominican Republic, 25-19, 26-24, 21-25, 25-19, on Saturday night in Omaha to capture gold in the NORCECA Continental Championship.
The victory qualified the Americans for the FIVB Grand Champions Cup in November in Japan. The tournament begins Nov. 12 in Nagoya and Tokyo.
"The Dominican Republic is a great team," Stanford grad Kristin Richards Hildebrand said. "Every single time we play them it's a battle."
Hildebrand scored 11 points for Team USA on 10 kills and a block. Kelly Murphy led the team with 18 points on 15 kills, two blocks and an ace.
"We were struggling a little and needed a little bit of energy," U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said. "We brought Christa Harmotto in off the bench. The first thing she did is get us a put-away and then she had a huge block and all of a sudden we were back in it."
Hildebrand also went on a long serving streak during the clinching fourth set.
"We were going after points again instead of waiting for those points to happen on their own," Kiraly said. "Kristin had a great serving streak. She was applying lots of pressure at the service line just the way we want her to. I'm proud of this group. Every one of these athletes made a meaningful, significant and critical contribution this week."
The United States held advantages of 5-2 in aces and 12-7 in blocks. Dominican Republic produced a 59-50 margin in kills, but committed 29 errors in the match.
The Americans beat the Dominican Republic for the title the last time the event was held in 2011. The Dominican Republic won it in 2009.
Earlier this year, the U.S. defeated Dominican Republic in straight sets in the Pan American Cup gold medal match.
Puerto Rico downed Canada, 25-23, 25-16, 25-16, to earn the bronze medal and Mexico topped Trinidad & Tobago in three sets for fifth place.
Team USA has won five of the last seven editions and reached the podium in 21 of the 23 editions since the tournament began in 1969.