Destinee Hooker: US Volleyball Star Is the Best Athlete You've Never Heard of

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Destinee Hooker: US Volleyball Star Is the Best Athlete You've Never Heard of
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While most of the volleyball world has had their eyes glued to Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh's run to a third-consecutive Olympic gold on the sand, there's probably one volleyball player that's barely caught your attention.

Her name would be Destinee Hooker, the up-and-coming opposite hitter for Team USA's indoor squad. And yes, she's heard all the jokes about her name, and yes, she is quite proud of it.

Now that the laughs are over, what do you know about the country's best weapon on the court? Probably not much.

The 24-year-old San Antonio native (she was born in Frankfurt, Germany, actually) is a 6'4" machine designed specifically to make opposing defenses suffer.

While May-Treanor and Walsh have been busy getting all the fame on the beach and the men's indoor team garnered a lot of attention with the likes of Matt Anderson, Clay Stanley and Reid Priddy leading up to their upset loss at the hands of the Italians, Hooker has been quietly leading her squad on a charge.

Hooker, a first-time Olympian, leads the team in scoring, and it's not even close. She has 102 kills to go along with 18 blocks and five service aces, totaling 123 points heading into Thursday's semifinal against Korea. That's third in the Games, behind only China's Yeon-Koung Kim (165 points) and Yekaterina Gamova of Russia (124 points).

The next closest American, Foluke Akinradewo, has just 72 points.

Team USA has noticed (as should you). Teammates feel she's playing like a seasoned veteran, not a green-in-the-ears player recently graduated from Texas.

But if anyone's noticed, it's probably the opposition.

Brazil's Guimaraes told TeamUSA.org, "It's complicated for the other teams, not for the American team."

For example, in the 2011 FIVB World Cup, Hooker tallied 39 points against China (a regular contender), and in the match that clinched Team USA an Olympic berth, she scored another 27 points against Italy.

Watch a match and you'll hear her name announced constantly on kills, on blocks, on serves, all over the court. Setter Lindsey Berg constantly looks for who Danielle Scott-Arruda refers to as "one of the best volleyball players in the world."

But you've probably never heard any of this talk. Most of the Olympics have been spent talking about LeBron James and company, Missy Franklin and Michael Phelps, May-Treanor and Walsh and everything in between.

But take a peek at Hooker. You're watching a rising star on the court, and you're just beginning to find out.

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