COURTNEY THOMPSON AND TAMA MIYASHIRO HELP LEAD TEAM USA TO VICTORY
Final Score: USA 3, South Korea 1 (25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21)
It was the fourth set, and the USA women’s volleyball team was in trouble.
South Korea star hitter Yeon-Koung Kim was dominating the match. After rocky wins in the first two sets, the USA lost the third. With the Americans clinging to a 14-13 fourth set lead, middle blocker Christa Harmotto rescued a low set and slammed it for a point.
Enter Courtney Thompson.
|Team USA celebrates a point during the fourth set against Korea|
As she had all evening, the former University of Washington setter launched a “jumpie”: a float serve with minimal rotation. The ball dropped at the feet of the Korean defender, who barely kept it in play. After a short rally, Dae-Young Jung pushed a ball past libero Nicole Davis for another Korean point.
But Thompson—who had entered each set as part of a double-substitution—went to work. A back set to Jordan Larson for a kill. A smart defensive read to avoid a Korean attack heading out of bounds. A pair of double blocks by Harmotto and Tayyiba Haneef-Park. A Larson service ace.
After Korea broke the run, Thompson fed Harmotto with a quick set to the middle for another kill. Courtney’s former Washington teammate Tama Miyashiro entered to serve, forcing the Koreans out of system with a deep float, allowing another Haneef-Park termination block. Larson’s back-row attack from a Thompson set didn’t fall, allowing Korea to push a quick return beyond Larson’s reach. the next play, Thompson slid another quick, this time to Foluke Akinradewo for the kill.
By the time Thompson rotated back to the sidelines, she’d led her team on an 8-3 run and a 23-16 lead.
With Lindsey Berg back at setter, the Koreans won 4 of the next 5 points. But a Larson block ended the set, and the match, giving the USA its first—and tougher-than-expected win of these Olympics.
During the post-match press conference, head coach Hugh McCutcheon mentioned the late set four run:
“It was a very tough game” said McCutcheon, “and Korea made us work a lot. We did some things pretty well but I have also seen room for improvement.
“The players responded well especially after dropping the third set and they turned it around in a very good way to finish it off in the fourth set.”
Korea’s Kim led all hitters with 27 kills and 8 errors on 63 attempts (.300). Dentinee Hooker was Berg’s primary target all night, finishing with 19 kills and 4 errors on 42 attempts (.357) Larson had 14 kills (.393) while Akinradewo added 9 (.411).