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Hooker the hero as USA pip China

by WoV
source: www.fivb.org author: FIVB Press

World Cup

Destinee Hooker posted 37 points in a huge win over China, who have now played four 3-2 matches – three of them in defeat

Tokyo, Japan, November 16, 2011 – An astonishing 37 point haul from USA superstar Destinee Hooker helped the World Grand Prix champions to an amazing 3-2 (25-21, 31-29, 18-25, 19-25, 15-10) win over China in the opening match of the fourth and final round of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup 2011 at the Yoyogi Stadium on Wednesday.

The five set victory, the Americans’ eighth win from nine matches in the tournament and sixth successive win over China, sees the world No.2 side collect two points and draw level with unbeaten leaders Italy, who have a game in hand, on 23 points. It was the fourth five-set match (three of them in defeat) three-time champions China have played in this tournament.

Women’s World Cup Results/Standings, Match Info, Photos or Live Scoring 

With Italy to play fourth placed Germany and with two matches remaining, the tournament title and Olympic qualification, which is on offer to the three medallists, is still up for grabs.

Supporting Hooker in her scoring exploits, which would have been a World Cup record if the Dominican Republic’s Bethania De La Cruz de Pena hadn’t scored 42 points against Germany in the third round, were Heather Bown with 16 points and Foluke Akinradewo with 15. For China, who were celebrating the 30th anniversary of their first World Cup triumph, Hui Ruoqi led the way with 25 points.

The Americans served very well to start the match with aces from Logan Tom, Jordan Larson and Bown helping the side to an early four point lead. China’s leading scorer in the tournament Hui countered with two attacks and a stubborn block for China keeping her side close. But spikes from Hooker (who had eight in the period) and Larson kept USA ahead 16-12, and they would extend that lead with an Akinradewo spike down the line to take control 22-15. China then rolled off a run of five straight points to give USA a scare but Akinradewo remained composed, dropping two more bombs to help them finish 25-21.

China opened the second a little better as Zhang Lei spiked off the wing for a score and followed up with an ace to give China a 16-13 edge. Another Bown ace and a drive from Akinradewo helped USA back to within one point before a key block by Bown on Zhang Lei tied the scores at 20-20. The teams fought hard for this period, with a Larson return surprising China and gifting USA set point at 24-23. But China, powered by Hui and Xu up front, helped continue the fight for four set points of their own. The American’s battled them all off in a see-saw affair that saw them close it with a Hooker run-down keeping their set point alive, which was closed out by Bown’s spike, 31-29.

China’s Zhang Lei stepped up in the third with two of her trademark running spikes from the wing to give her team a big lead at 13-8. Mid-set saw a flurry of errors from both sides until China’s Hui took charge again, delivering an ace to go ahead by 18-12. They continued to hold that cushion with Xu showing great awareness up front, punching in a tip behind the scrambling US defenders to make it 22-17. Yang then frustrated Larson with an impressive block to help China close the set at 25-18.

Dropping the third seemed to light a fire under the Americans as both Bown and Larson posted blocks on Yang early. Hooker was still on fire with five successful attacks including an ace to put her side up 8-4 but a clever tip at the next by Hui followed up by a Ma spike allowed China to draw even at 12-12. The Chinese would take six of the next seven points including consecutive attacks from Wang out wide to go up by five. A back attack from Hooker drew the US to within two, but China’s Xu scored four consecutive points for her side to help them take the fourth set 25-19 and take the match to a decisive fifth.

Everyone was wondering if this would be another miracle comeback for China as the fifth got underway as leading scorers Hui and Hooker came out swinging for their teams. Hooker gave her side an 8-7 edge with a great spike, one of an astounding nine points in the final set. Bown would step into the closer role with a smart put-away into the back court, followed by an incredible block on China’s Hui to take the set 15-10, and the match.

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