Five years after frustrating their fight for the Olympic gold in the semi-finals, the US women’s volleyball team returned at that point after a relatively comfortable win in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
In its third Olympic participation, the Dominican Republic probably paid off a lack of experience.
The Americans overcame the absence of two starters and defeated the Dominicans 25-11, 25-20, 25-19 to slip into the fight for medals.
The United States will face the winner of the duel between Serbia and Italy on Friday for a place in the final.
This is the sixth time in the last eight games that the Americans have gone so far in the tournament that they have fallen behind with a gold medal. In Beijing 2008 and London 2012 they won the silver, and in Rio 2016 they won the bronze.
“This show has been very successful over the years,” said USA coach Karsh Kiraly. But we are not yet at the top of the podium. So our goal is always to try to do something that hasn’t been done before. But the opponent has a lot to say about how that works (…) There are great teams here with the same goal. But we will continue to push that door to try to break it down.”
The United States entered the semi-finals with two important absentees, absent rookies Jordan Poulter and Jordan Thompson, both of whom had right ankle injuries.
It is not missed. In the first set, her replacements, Misha Hancock and Annie Drews, set the pace early. Hancock’s attack ended with a shot by Drews on the first point of the game and Hancock closed the lopsided group with a straight point.
The second set against the Dominican Republic was complicated when “Las Reinas del Caribe” got four points past the set before Drews wrapped up the set with an offensive point. Drew finished 21 attack points.
The Dominicans also reached the quarter-finals in London 2012, also losing to the United States at the same stage. They did not survive the first round when they participated in Athens 2004.
“The United States is a much stronger team with a lot of international experience,” said Dominican Libero Brenda Castillo. “I think we were accused of our inexperience and we couldn’t stand it.”
“I am proud to have qualified for the quarter-finals, which not many people expected,” she added.
Designer Camille Dominguez said the defeat was heartbreaking but provided “an opportunity to continue growing”.
In another match of the day, South Korea beat Turkey in five sets to qualify for the semi-finals, where it will face the winner of the confrontation between the team representing the Russian Olympic Committee and Brazil.
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