American women clinch spot in FIVB World Grand Prix finals

Akinradewo, Tom combine for 19 kills in straight set win over Italy

Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo recorded 11 kills while hitting at a .647 pace, two blocks and an ace as the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team defeated Italy, 25-23, 25-19, 25-18, on Saturday in Pool J of the FIVB World Grand Prix in Hong Kong.

The U.S., ranked second in the FIVB world ranking and defending FIVB World Grand Prix champions clinched a spot in the eight-team Grand Prix Final Round, which begins Thursday in Macau, a short boat ride from Hong Kong.

The Americans (8-1, 23 points) are currently in third place in the 16-team tournament. Italy fell to 6-2 with 16 points.

Team USA completed the preliminary round with a 25-13, 25-18, 25-15 victory over Peru on Sunday at the Hong Kong Coliseum. Tom and Akinradewo were given the night off.

Against Italy, the U.S. rallied from a 22-18 deficit in the opening set to win 25-23 with four blocks and an ace in a 7-1 scoring run. Team USA broke a 13-all tie in the second set by scoring eight of the next 10 points establishing a 21-15 advantage en route to a 25-19 victory. The Americans jumped to an 11-6 lead in the third set with five unanswered points and rolled to the 25-18 victory.

"I am happy with our team performance," U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon said. "First reason is that Italy is a very strong team, but we can still play at a high level. It is good for us to improve. Secondly, our team was very connected and we worked together well during the game. We still have 12 hours to get some rest before playing against Peru."

Destinee Hooker had a match-high 18 points, all on kills with only one error for a .500 hitting efficiency. Stanford grad Logan Tom contributed eight kills, three aces and two blocks for 13 points. Jordan Larson had four kills, four aces and two blocks for 10 points.

The Americans had an 8-0 advantage on aces and 12-4 edge in blocks.

Beach volleyball

The U.S. women's beach volleyball team of Misty May-Treanor and Stanford grad Kerri Walsh settled for the silver medal on Saturday at the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour Paf Open in Aland, Finland.

Meanwhile, the U.S. men's team of Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers advanced to Sunday's gold medal match.

The fourth-ranked May-Treanor and Walsh fell to China's second-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang in Saturday's gold medal match, 21-16, 17-21, 15-9.

The top-seeded men's team of Dalhausser and Rogers will face Brazil's fifth-seeded Marcio Araujo and Benjamin Insfran in Sunday's men's gold medal match.

Dalhausser and Rogers advanced by defeating Poland's third-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel in the semifinals on Saturday, 21-19, 18-21, 15-12 in 1 hour.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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