Women's Volleyball to Play for Gold
Tayyiba Haneef-Park (No. 3), Christa Harmotto (No. 13) and Jordan Larson (No. 10) go up for the block against Yeon-Koung Kim during volleyball action on Aug. 9
LONDON -- The unbeaten U.S. women's volleyball team will get another chance at its first gold medal.
The Americans advanced to the Olympic final with a straight-set victory over South Korea on Thursday. The team will play for the title Saturday against the winner of a later semifinal between Brazil and Japan.
The top-ranked United States has dropped just two sets in London. In the latest victory, Destinee Hooker scored 24 points in the 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 win at Earls Court.
The American women made it to the final at the 2008 Beijing Games but settled for the silver medal, falling 3-1 to Brazil. The team has won silver twice and bronze once since volleyball joined the Olympics in 1964. But the gold has eluded them.
The U.S. got an emotional boost for the match with the return of captain Lindsey Berg, who was held out of the team's quarterfinal victory over the Dominican Republic with an injury to her lower left leg.
Fifteenth-ranked South Korea upset No. 4 Italy in four sets Tuesday to advance before losing to the Americans. South Korea's best result in Olympic play came at the 1976 Montreal Games.
The United States has a 6-2 record against South Korea in Olympic matches, including a 3-1 U.S. victory in the opening match of the tournament.
The semifinal was tight at the start, but the United States pulled ahead 20-16 in the first set on Hooker's kill. The South Koreans denied the U.S. its first chance at set point before Kim Yeon-koung's serve sailed out to give it to the Americans.
South Korea took a 14-11 advantage in the second on Jung Dae-young's kill, but mistakes cost them in the end. Kim's misplayed spike gave the United States a 23-22 lead, and Han Yoo-Mi's kill went wide for set point.
Jordan Larson's spike made it 15-10 in the third set, but South Korea evened it at 18 on Kim's ace. The U.S. wouldn't let the South Koreans take the lead. Hooker's monster spike set up Logan Tom's kill for match point as the crowd at Earls Court chanted "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
Kim scored 20 points for the South Koreans.
Berg, a three-time Olympian, hurt her leg in the Americans' final preliminary-round match against Turkey on Sunday, and the U.S. was tightlipped about when she might return because that could have given opponents an advantage.
Berg warmed up before the U.S. women's volleyball straight-set victory the Dominican Republic in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night but didn't play. Courtney Thompson started in her place.
After the match, U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon made a point of embracing Berg. It will be the second straight Olympic final for McCutcheon, who guided the American men to a gold medal in 2008.