Stanford grads Foluke Akinradewo and Kristin (Richards) Hildebrand helped their respective U.S. women's national volleyball teams to gold-medal efforts on Saturday.
Akinradewo helped the U.S. clinch its first FIVB World Grand Prix Finals championship since 2012 by defeating two-time defending champion and No. 2-ranked Brazil, 25-16, 25-22, 25-21.
The top-ranked Americans secured the title with one day remaining in the five-day event in Omaha, Neb. sweep of second-ranked Brazil secured the title for the No. 1 Americans with one day remaining in the five-day event.
In Toronto, Canada, Hildebrand helped the U.S. also sweep Brazil, 25-22, 25-21, 28-26, on Saturday to win the gold medal.
The U.S. Pan American Games team finished the tournament 5-1, with its only loss coming to Brazil in pool play.
It is the second time that the U.S. women have won the Pan Am Games gold. The other title came in 1967. It is the 12th Pan Am Games medal the U.S. women have won.
Four U.S. players were honored with individual awards: Setter Carli Lloyd was named Most Valuable Player and Best Setter. Nicole Fawcett won Best Opposite and Krista Vansant earned First Best Outside Hitter. Middle blocker Rachael Adams was Second Best Blocker.
Fawcett led all scorers with 21 points on 19 kills, one block and one ace. Vansant added 11 points on 10 kills and one block. Hildebrand totaled 10 points on eight kills and two blocks.
Saturday's gold medal match turned dramatic in the third set as the U.S. had to fight back from a 20-12 deficit, finally tying the score at 23-23. Brazil reached set point three times. At 26-25, U.S. setter Lloyd used her first kill of the match to catch Brazil off guard and tie the score. Brazil then had two straight hitting errors to give Team USA the victory.
The U.S. led in kills (54-38) while Brazil led in blocks (10-8) and aces (4-1). Brazil scored 17 points on U.S. errors while committing 15.
In Omaha, Team USA's win over Brazil left the Americans as the only undefeated team (4-0) remaining in the six-team finals. They have won 12 of the 14 sets played in the finals with one match to go Sunday against China.
It's the sixth Grand Prix title for the United States, which won three in a row from 2010 to 2012 before Brazil won the last two. The U.S. also won this event in 1995 and 2001.
It was a spike by Karsta Lowe, the newest member of the national team, which secured the victory before an announced crowd of 7,800 at CenturyLink Center.
Lowe finished with nine kills, one behind team leader Kimberly Hill. Akinradewo started at middle blocker.