Team USA continues its reign as world champions

Stanford grads are an important part of Americans' success

What Stanford grad Alissa Haber started, Cardinal grad Lauren Lappin finished. In between there was Stanford grad Jessica Mendoza.

Throw in some outstanding talent from other college softball powers in the country and it all added up to gold for the United States women's national softball team.

The Americans broke loose for a 7-0 victory over Japan in the gold medal game of the ISF World Championships in Caracas, Venezuela on Friday. The U.S. claimed its seventh consecutive world title and beating the Japanese made it even sweeter.

Japan ended Team USA's gold medal hopes in the Beijing Olympics two years ago in what might have been the last hurrah for the sport in the Olympics.

"It's very sweet that it was Japan, and it was a knockout," U.S. coach Jay Miller said.

After three scoreless innings, the U.S. rallied to score five runs in the top of the fourth. Haber singled home the first run and scored the second when Jennie Finch singled. Lappin capped the rally with a two-run triple. She scored on a passed ball.

Andrea Duran hit a two-run home run in the fifth to help end the game on the mercy rule. Mendoza had two hits and scored twice, including on Haber's single.

"I'm so proud of my teammates," said Mendoza, the oldest active player on the roster and a veteran of Olympic competition.

The U.S. (10-0) outscored its opposition by a combined total of 88-6 in the tournament. Cat Osterman went the first three innings to get credit for the win. Monica Abbott finished it off. The two pitchers combined on a two-hitter.

The U.S. and Japan will do battle again when the Americans host the World Cup of Softball beginning July 22 at the Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.

The Americans, which also number Stanford junior Ashley Hansen among its members, open the tournament against Canada, and meet Japan twice on successive days. The USA Futures team will also participate in the tournament.

Women's water polo

Stanford grad Brenda Villa scored three goals, Betsey Armstrong recorded 12 saves and the United States' national team beat Greece, 9-7, in the semifinals of the FINA World League Super Final on Friday night in La Jolla.

The Americans advance to the championship contest against Australia at 4:30 pm. Saturday. A live webcast is available through the USA water polo site.

Villa sparked a four-goal rally in the second half with a lob shot from eight meters out that extended the Americans' lead to three. After a man-advantage score by Kelly Rulon, Villa got back into the action when she put one in off the arms of Greek goalie Maria Tsouri.

High school senior Maggie Steffens (whose older sister Jessica is a Stanford grad and Olympian) added a goal early in the fourth period that gave Team USA a commanding 9-3 lead.

"We played strong defense, and guarded their 2-meter players well," U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said.

Stanford sophomore Annika Dries also scored for the Americans.

Men's volleyball

Stanford grad Kevin Hansen was credited with 31 running sets and the U.S. Men's National Team escaped with a 3-2 (20-25, 31-29, 25-17, 21-25, 15-12) in an FIVB World League match on Friday in Cairo.

The U.S. Men improve to 6-3 in Pool C and maintain their second-place standing. Egypt falls to 1-8 and sits in fourth.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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