Final score: USA 3, Brazil 1 (25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21)
Next match: Wednesday, noon (Pacific) vs. China
When two top teams meet in a marquee match, it usually comes down to serving.
Brazil’s inability to serve well was the most important storyline as top-ranked USA prevailed 3-1 in a much-anticipated Olympic pool play showdown. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Brazil took the gold and USA the silver.
|Jordan Larson, Nicole Davis, Logan Tom, Foluke Akinradewo and Destinee Hooker celebrate a point against Brazil|
At the most obvious level, Brazil gave away far too many points—15—on outright service errors, compared to just 7 for the USA (3 by Jordan Larson). In the decisive fourth set, Brazil missed its final two serves, while Larson and Logan Tom served tough.
And throughout the match, Brazil’s in-bounds serves were generally not tough enough, producing just 3 aces and allowing the Americans to make far too many decent passes. When the USA was in system, it rarely made mistakes.
Brazil proved to be a lopsided team. When middle blocker Thaisa Menezes was in the front row, the offense clicked. But on two rotations, both the second middle blocker (usually Fabiana Claudino) and the setter (alternating between Fernanda Ferreira and Danielle Lins) were ineffective, allowing the USA to concentrate on just one hitter. In fact, Brazil rarely went to its opposite hitter, and it set few quicks to either middle.
“[USA] is a team that deserves a lot of respect,” said veteran Brazilian hitter Paula Pequeno, “but they have a lot of weak points that we have to know how to take advantage of. They put all of the responsibility on top of us and just defended. We need to have more patience and better ourselves a lot.”
|Logan Tom tips past Fernanda Ferreira (9) and Fabiana Claudino|
Libero Nicole Davis, despite a few lapses in the fourth set, played much better than she did against South Korea, committing just two serve-receive errors and just two digging errors. That allowed setter Lindsey Berg to set with notable confidence and better deception.
Once again, Destinee Hooker was the top attacker, recording 22 kills and 3 errors on 45 attempts (.422). Logan Tom bounced back with big numbers: 12 kills and just 1 error on 27 attempts (.407). Jordan Larson was once again solid with 16 kills and 6 on 36 attempts (.277).
With better passes, Berg was also able to get her middles more involved in the offense. Foluke Akinradewo had 9 kills and 4 errors on 19 attempts (.263), while Christa Harmotto added 4 kills and 1 error on 8 attempts (.375).
Both Courtney Thompson and Tama Miyashiro saw time as substitutes; both played well, but neither was in long enough to influence the match.