The real Olympic women's volleyball tournament starts now. And it's the non-starters who may decide whether the United States gets the medal upgrade it has wanted for four years.
Another powerful performance by captain Tara Cross-Battle and exceptional bench play led the United States to a 10-15, 15-13, 15-9, 15-3 victory Sunday over South Korea to clinch the No.
2 seed in Pool A.
The defending bronze medalists, the Americans (4-1) open the quarterfinals Tuesday in Atlanta.
The United States has turned back challenges from two quick, aggressive Asian teams. The only Asian team it couldn't handle was Pool A winner China (5-0), which beat the Americans 3-1 Wednesday, then defeated Japan on Sunday.
"We're definitely ready for the quarterfinals," said Cross-Battle, who had a match-high 31 kills. "The Asian teams, they like to run around and make us tired, but I think we put it back on them, especially in that fourth game. We picked up our pace a little bit because we knew they were slowing down."
The U.S. bench played well, especially Danielle Scott, Paula Weishoff and Lori Endicott, usually the starting setter. Yoko Zetterlund started because she played well off the bench in a victory Friday over Japan.
Endicott came on with the U.S. team struggling early in the third game. She promptly ran off eight straight service points, including an ace, and the Americans took the lead for good at 12-8. Cross-Battle had four kills in the streak.
In the other game at Athens, the Netherlands (3-2) routed Ukraine (0-5) 15-3, 15-5, 15-5 to take the No.
3 seed in Pool A. South Korea got the fourth seed.
Brazil defeated Germany 15-4, 13-15, 15-6, 15-8 in Atlanta, but both countries, along with Russia and Cuba, already qualified in Pool B.