The United States women's national volleyball team clinched its highest finish in the FIVB Grand Prix competition since winning it all in 2001, beating host China, 25-21, 27-25, 25-22, Saturday in Ningbao.
Team USA (4-0, 10 points) plays Japan on Sunday (Saturday night PDT) needing only to win at least two sets to clinch the overall title. Any kind of victory would also work. The U.S. has won its past 10 matches.
Brazil (2-2, 8 points) remains mathematically alive in the race for the gold medal, though the defending champion would need to sweep its final match and have the Americans get swept to do so.
Texas grad Destinee Hooker, a national team rookie, recorded a match-high 24 points on 19 kills, three blocks and two aces. Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo added 14 points on seven kills, a match-high five blocks and two aces. China recorded four blocks as a team.
Cardinal grad Logan Tom, Jordan Larson and Heather Bown each had six kills in the victory. Stanford grad Cynthia Barboza subbed into the second set as a server.
"I'm happy about the way we played," U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon said. "It's very challenging to play China because they are such a good team. I liked the way we were disciplined in serving, blocking and defense. The receiving players worked hard to start the offense by making great passes."
The U.S. had a 16-4 block advantage over China, 15 over the final two sets. The Americans also had a 44-42 margin in kills and both teams served four aces.
Hooker and Akinradewo combined for 15 of USA's 25 points in the third set.