LONDON – Coach Hugh McCutcheon made a special point of seeking out captain Lindsey Berg for a quick hug after the U.S. womens volleyball team advanced to the gold medal match at the London Olympics.
The Americans got an emotional boost from Berg, who returned for a straight-set semifinal victory over South Korea on Thursday after missing the last match with a strained left Achilles tendon.
Its game time and I feel great, and I dont care how I feel after Saturday, Berg said, referring to the final, a rematch of 2008 Olympic finale against Brazil.
The U.S. women settled for the silver medal in Beijing, falling 3-1 to Brazil. But the gold has eluded them since volleyball joined the Olympics in 1964.
The United States, ranked No. 1 in the world by the sports international governing body, has rolled undefeated through London, dropping only two sets. Destinee Hooker scored 24 points in the 25-20, 25-22, 25-22 win over South Korea at Earls Court.
Its great to be in this position, U.S. middle blocker Christa Harmotto said. Its a position weve worked for for four years, and were exactly where we want to be.
Berg, a three-time Olympian, hurt her leg in the Americans final preliminary-round match against Turkey on Sunday.
Berg warmed up before the teams straight-set victory over the Dominican Republic in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, but didnt play. Courtney Thompson started in her place.
Beach star’s plans
Kerri Walsh Jennings, half of the most dominant beach volleyball team in the sports history, was already thinking of a fourth Olympics, turning her thoughts to a fourth gold medal. But shell need to chase it with another partner because Misty May-Treanor is planning to retire.
Walsh Jennings said she will play in an FIVB event in Poland next week with Nicole Branagh, a 2008 Olympian she paired with while May-Treanor was injured and contemplating retirement after Beijing.
Another possibility is silver medalist April Ross. Ross partner Jennifer Kessy turned 35 during the Olympics – the day after May-Treanor – and is unlikely to stick around for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
SWIMMING: Eva Risztov of Hungary led most of the way in a grueling open-water marathon at Hyde Park, holding off a desperate bid to chase her down by American Haley Anderson.
DIVING: Chen Ruolin of China won the womens 10-meter platform gold, easily defending her title from Beijing, totaling 422.30 points during the five-dive final, winning by a 55.80-point margin. Brittany Broben, a 16-year-old from Australia, took the silver at 366.50. Pandelela Pamg of Malaysia was third.
SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING: Russia led the technical routine of the team event, scoring 98.1 points. China was next with 97.0 points and Spain finished third with 96.2 points. Medals will be handed out after todays free routines, with points from both days added up.
CANOE SPRINT: The foursome of Tate Smith, Dave Smith, Murray Stewart and Jacob Clear gave Australia a lift with a wire-to-wire win in the mens 1,000-meter K-4.
Germany collected two more victories, with Tina Dietze and Franziska Weber taking the womens 500-meter K-2 and Peter Kretschmer and Kurt Kuschela winning the mens double canoe sprint 1,000.
Danuta Kozak won her second gold of the regatta for Hungary, grabbing the top spot in the womens single kayak 500-meter sprint.
EQUESTRIAN: Charlotte Dujardin of Britain won the individual dressage gold medal on Valegro, scoring 90.089 percent in the deciding grand prix musical freestyle.
WRESTLING: Womens freestyle wrestling golds went to Japans Saori Yoshida (55-kilogram) and Russias Natalia Vorobieva (72-kilogram).