Destinee Hooker: Young Volleyball Star Will Redeem US in Future Olympics

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Destinee Hooker: Young Volleyball Star Will Redeem US in Future Olympics
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In 2008 Destinee Hooker was 20 years old and preparing herself for a first-time appearance in the Olympics

The gifted athlete was not a terribly vital part of the team at the time, so Team USA didn't lose any sleep after it was forced to cut her at the last minute and exclude her from the trip to Beijing for the Summer Games. 

Surely her personal devastation was beyond comprehension, but the U.S. managed to perform without her, as it earned a silver medal in Beijing after a 3-0 sweep of Cuba in the semifinals and a 3-1 loss to Brazil in the finals (which sounds familiar). 

What the Americans didn't realize at the time, at least not completely, is that Hooker is a star player who could have single-handedly changed the outcome of their performance. 

But now that Team USA has completed its memorable run through the 2012 Olympics in London, the team now realizes that it has a weapon that will make U.S. women's volleyball a major factor in the future. 

 

2012 London Olympics

The 24-year-old Destinee Hooker first felt the spotlight on her during the United States' first preliminary game of the 2012 London Olympics, against South Korea. 

Korea's Yeon-Koung Kim played up to her potential and posed a serious threat to the U.S. after scoring 29 points throughout the match. 

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Typically, when the opposing team has a player capable of scoring 29 times, the end result is not good. But luckily for the U.S., Hooker immediately proved that she can score with the best of them and finished with 21 points. 

The U.S. defeated Korea, 3-1. 

Korea provided the U.S. with a challenging first match, and things didn't get any easier afterward, as the Americans went up against Brazil in the second preliminary round. 

Despite facing two of the best teams in the tournament during the first two rounds, Hooker was once again able to lead her team in scoring, with 23 points, which helped the U.S. to a 3-1 win. 

Hooker scored 60 points throughout the next three preliminary rounds, and Team USA had lost only two sets upon entering the quarterfinals. 

Hooker scored 19 points in quarterfinal match against the Dominican Republic and totaled a whopping 24 points against Korea in the semifinals.

Team USA didn't lose a single set during those two games. 

By the time Hooker entered the finals, her popularity had skyrocketed, and fans everywhere hoped that she would earn her first gold medal as an Olympian. 

However, in the finals, against Brazil, Hooker scored only 14 points, her lowest point total of the Olympics. 

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Despite its best efforts, Team USA suffered a 3-1 loss to Brazil in the finals and settled with a silver medal for the second consecutive time. 

The loss was a miserable ending to an otherwise great story, but there's still hope for the future. 

 

Future Olympics

Destinee Hooker will be 28 years old by the time the Olympics roll around in 2016. 

She will still be well within her prime and will have a chance to avenge Team USA's loss to Brazil during the 2012 Olympic finals. 

In fact half of team USA's 12-person roster is currently under the age of 30, and Danielle Scott-Arruda is the only member of the team who will be 40 years old or older by the time the 2016 Olympic games arrive. 

As a result, the majority of the team should remain intact. And as for Hooker, she will be older and even more mature, which will allow her to enter the role of team leader. 

The U.S. had to settle for the silver this time around, but it will have another shot at Brazil in four years. 

Perhaps it's fitting that the 2016 Olympics take place in Rio de Janeiro, the second-largest city in Brazil. With such an appropriate setting, be sure to remember this storyline.

As for Hooker, she'll be ready. 

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