Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympics | Keys to Wednesday’s USA vs. China match

USA (2-0) vs. China (2-0)
Wednesday, August 1, 12:00noon (Pacific)
[Live on www.nbcolympics.com/liveextra/]

After dispatching Brazil, the US team faces another formidable foe: China.
Here are a couple things to watch when the teams take the court Wednesday at noon (Pacific):
USA’s serve receive was vastly better against Brazil than in its first match against South Korea. At every level of volleyball, the ability of back row players to consistently deliver clean passes gives a setter her full arsenal of weapons. Conversely, several USA servers have room for improvement, as they’ve delivered too many easily-passed balls to their opponents.
American setter Lindsey Berg has made little secret that Destinee Hooker is her go-to hitter. That said, Berg’s distribution has been both respectable—and consistent. Here are the attack attempts for the first two matches:

vs. South Korea
vs. Brazil
Destinee Hooker
Jordan Larson
Logan Tom
Foluke Akinradewo
Christa Harmotto
(NOTE: Berg delivered 71% of USA’s sets against Korea and 77% against Brazil)
If opponents key on Hooker, or if Hooker gets tired (as she seemed to against South Korea), Berg will need all her weapons. In particular, both Akinradewo and Harmotto are capable of piling up points when the opponent’s second middle blocker is in the rotation; Berg would do well to look to them more often.
Both USA setters—Lindsey Berg and Courtney Thompson—are 5-8, on the short side for international play. While blocking is not their first responsibility, the USA is vulnerable in rotations 4, 5 & 6, when the setter is in the front row. In those rotations, Harmotto has helped tremendously with her eyework and long arms, often blocking line by reaching over Berg. The trouble comes when opponents tip … and Hooker is playing back row behind the setter. USA did a great job covering tips against Brazil, however, and may need to be equally alert against the Chinese.
Lindsey Berg (4), Christa Harmotto (13) and Logan Tom (15) put up a right side triple block against Brazil
-photo courtesy David Weitl

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