The United States men's volleyball team may watch their dreams of defending their gold medal from the Beijing Games evaporate with a stunning straight-sets loss to Italy in Wednesday's quarterfinals, but the American women are still chugging right along and now stand one win away from trying to avenge their loss to Brazil in the Olympic finals four years ago.
The U.S. women cruised past the Dominican Republic in straight sets Tuesday 25-14, 25-21, 25-22 to reach Thursday's semis, where top scorer Destinee Hooker and the Americans will face the South Koreans, a team they already defeated with relative ease once in this tournament.
That win came in the United States first game of the 2012 London Games, a 25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21 victory in which Hooker paced the U.S. with 21 points and the Associated Press reported via nbcolympics.com that fans at Earls Court chanted "Des-tin-ee! Des-tin-ee!"
It may well be "destiny" that will help propel the United States into the gold medal match, but the Americans won't enter the rematch with South Korea without any question marks. Starting setter Lindsey Berg missed the match with the Dominicans with an injured ankle.
Berg's status for Thursday's semifinals is unknown. However, the U.S. didn't appear to miss a beat with reserve Courtney Thompson on the court against the Dominican Republic, and as Hooker told the AP, she's confident that if called upon, Thompson, a first-time Olympian, will once again deliver when it counts.
Courtney's a quarterback. She went out there and took control of the game. She knows our rhythm and it was great to have her on the court.
Regardless of how the U.S. gets to the final,s assuming they do, the world's top-ranked team just might get the shot at redemption they've sought since losing in four sets in China four years ago.
It took some doing, but the Brazilians also advanced to the semifinals, rallying from a two-sets-to-one deficit to defeat Russia and set up a match with Japan, who played their own five-set marathon to upset China.
So, while it's important, even vital that the United States women's volleyball team not overlook South Korea, the stage has been set, and if the Americans can hold up their end of the deal, then we may just get treated to the sort of gold medal rematch that Olympic drama is all about.