Five years after giving up her Japanese citizenship, Yoko Zetterlund helped lead the U.S. women's volleyball team to a crucial victory Friday night over the country where she once starred.
Zetterlund, the backup setter, replaced Lori Endicott with the United States down 9-0 to Japan in the first set. She played the rest of the way as the Americans responded with 10 straight points en route to a 15-11, 15-7, 15-12 victory that clinched a spot in the quarterfinals.
Zetterlund typically is a solid backup, but Endicott hasn't been playing well, and Zetterlund's familiarity with the Japanese team figured to be a factor.
The United States, the 1992 bronze medalist, fell behind 8-2 in the final set but scored nine of the last 11 points.
"It's an honor to play for the USA in front of a huge crowd," Zetterlund said. "We're going all the way."
The Americans have won 12 of their past 16 matches against Japan, after losing 17 of 19 during 1992 and 1993.
Zetterlund was born in the United States but moved to Japan at age 6 with her mother, who played on the Japanese team that took the silver medal at the 1960 World Championships.
Zetterlund was a star at the high school and college ranks and played for Japan's team that won the 1986 Asia Junior Championship. She held dual citizenship, but chose U.S. citizenship in 1991.
China, which beat an erratic U.S. squad Wednesday night, leads the pool at 4-0 with one match left in round-robin play. The United States (3-1) regained sole possession of second place in Pool A _ a placement that helps them avoid both gold-medal favorites, Cuba and Brazil, in the quarterfinals.
The top four teams in each pool advance to the quarterfinals.
The U.S. team plays its final preliminary match Sunday against South Korea (2-2), which lost 15-11, 15-12, 7-15, 15-8 to the Netherlands on Friday.
Japan led 10-1 in the first set, but hit two balls out on U.S. serve to make it 10-3. The Americans finally got into a flow, and Elaina Oden capped the run with a block for an 11-10 lead.
After service changed hands 16 times with the United States leading 13-11, Zetterlund's kill brought up match point, and three-time Olympian Paula Weishoff won it with a service ace.
In the second set, Zetterlund had two straight blocks during a six-point run that gave the Americans a 7-2 lead.
The U.S. team needed one more rally, overturning a 10-6 deficit in the third. Danielle Scott and three-time Olympian Caren Kemner _ both reserves _ contributed three points each.
Also, Russia beat Peru 15-11, 15-8, 15-1 and Cuba beat Germany 15-6, 15-8, 15-4.