The United States women's volleyball team captured its first-ever world championship Sunday, beating China, 27-25, 25-20, 16-25, 26-24, in Milan, Italy for the historic milestone before a crowd of 12,600.
The No. 2 USA, which has been among the top teams in the world for 35 years, finally got the monkey off their back by winning the title. Despite their legacy of success, the U.S. had never won the World Championship title, or any of the three major women's international titles including the Olympic Games and FIVB World Cup.
The Americans finished the World Championship with an 11-2 record and prevented the Chinese from winning their third World Championship. China, ranked No. 5 in the world, ended the tournament with the silver medal and a 10-3 record.
"We came here to make history and we made it," U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said. "It was a battle to the end and I hope that we will be playing against each other in the future. It is just good for the sport to have teams with such history performing at a high level."
Jenny Lang Pang, who had previously held the same position with Team USA, coaches China. She was also the MVP of the event in 1982.
Kimberly Hill, the most valuable player of the tournament, led the USA with 20 points on 19 kills on 31 swings including World Championship winning kill.
"I feel ecstatic and happy and just cannot believe it is real," Hill said. "The award was a surprise and I still cannot believe it either, it is just amazing. Tonight it is everything. Eating, drinking and we are just going to celebrate being together."
Christa Dietzen added 15 points with a match-high seven blocks to go with eight kills. Stanford grad Foluke Akinradewo chipped in 14 points, followed by Kelly Murphy with 13.
"It's the first time for the USA and we made it," Dietzen said. "We represented present and future volleyball programs, but most importantly we did it together."
Akinradewo tweeted "so surreal" and posted on her instagram account.
Cardinal grad Kristin Richards Hildebrand also posted on her twitter account. Hildebrand served as the U.S. team captain leading up to the world championships.
China was paced by Chunlei Zeng's 20 points. Ting Zhu and Ruoqi Hui added 15 points apiece.
Based on the results of the World Championship results, USA will likely move into the No. 1 world ranking when the new official standings come out later this week.
Key facts: The United States qualified for the final for the second time at the World Championships. In 2002, they lost to Italy in five sets . . . The U.S. has won two silver and two bronze medals at the world championships and became the third nation to complete the medal set following Russia and Japan . . . This was the seventh meeting between China and United States at the World Championships. United States won four times (1956, 1978, 1982 and 2014) and China three times (1986, 1990, 2006). The U.S. and China also met in each of the last five Olympic Games, with USA winning the last two matches (2008 and 2012) . . .China was in the gold medal match for a record fifth time at the World Championships. Cuba has played a 1-2 final four times . . . China had won their past 13 World Championship meetings against NORCECA countries, dating to the 1998 final 3-0 against Cuba.