Entering the Beijing Games four years ago, the U.S. women’s volleyball team was good. Entering the London Games, it’s the No. 1 team in the world, yet still seeks its first Olympic gold medal.
Reaching the medal round was the expectation four years ago, and an appearance in the gold-medal match would constitute a successful Games. The dominance of Brazil prevented many from thinking anyone else could win gold. Indeed, Brazil’s women claimed the Olympic title, knocking off the Americans in the final.
The outlook is different entering the 2012 Games. The U.S. women just won a third straight FIVB World Grand Prix title and take with them into London the world’s No. 1 ranking, which leads prognosticators to pick them as the Olympic favorite for the first time – it’s likely the best U.S. women’s team of all time. Depth is Team USA’s biggest strength. They’ve got youth and experience, and the team spent the last three years demolishing the competition at every opportunity. The team is so dominant that in early July they won the last major international competition before London with their back up squad, because the starters were resting up for the Olympics . This proves that their level of play stays high even when they bring in substitutes from the bench.
Four-time Olympian Logan Tom is the glue that holds the American team together. A stabilizing force at outside hitter, Tom’s impeccable ball control allows the U.S. to run a quick offense. Tom is a talented all-around player, so look for the veteran to be a team leader on the floor in London.
Destinee Hooker, a three-time NCAA champion in the high jump, joined the national team after leading Texas to the NCAA finals in 2008. Hooker was named MVP at the 2011 Grand Prix and earned Best Spiker honors at the 2011 World Cup.
Team USA is coached by Hugh McCutcheon, who led the U.S. men to gold at the 2008 Games and decided to jump over to the women the following year.
No. 2 Brazil will again be the USA’s main competition. In Beijing, these two faced off in the gold medal match and Brazil took the victory in four sets. Since then, the Americans began to beat Brazil consistently and last November they unseated them as the new No. 1 team. he two will meet on July 30th in pool play but expect to see them match up again in the gold medal final.
Gold Medal Odds
Dominican Republic +15000
South Korea +12000
Great Britain +50000