OMAHA, Neb. (AP) The United States clinched its first FIVB World Grand Prix Finals championship since 2012 Saturday night by defeating the two-time defending champion Brazil.
A 25-16, 25-22, 25-21 sweep of second-ranked Brazil secured the title for the No. 1 Americans with one day remaining in the five-day event.
Team USA is the only undefeated team remaining in the six-team finals at 4-0. They have won 12 of the 14 sets played in the finals one match to go Sunday against China.
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It’s the sixth Grand Prix title for the United States, which won three in a row w from 2010 to 2012 before Brazil won the last two. The U.S. also won this event in 1995 and 2001.
”It feels great but we still have one more match,” USA Captain Christa Dietzen said. ”China’s playing really well right now, so we’re excited to come out tomorrow against them. Regardless of whether we’ve won the tournament or not, we’re always taking every game the same way.”
It was a spike by Karsta Lowe, the newest member of the national team, which secured the victory before an announced crowd of 7,800 at CenturyLink Center.
Lowe finished with nine kills, one behind team leader Kimberly Hill, who said winning the first set for the 12th consecutive time in this tournament was an important way to build momentum.
”I like that we came out tonight with a business attitude,” Hill said. ”We do a really good job of preparing ourselves mentally before-hand and having that killer attitude when we step onto the court.”
Dietzen with seven spikes and seven blocks. The Americans scored the final four points of the third set to break a 21-21 deadlock.
It was Dietzen’s last block and spike that accounted for points 22 and 23, respectively, before an attack error by Brazil and Lowe’s spike closed the match in the 89th minute.
In Saturday’s opening match, China swept Russia 27-25, 25-20, 25-19, making both squads 2-2 in the finals. Brazil fell to 2-2 with the loss to the Americans. Italy outlasted Japan 20-25, 25-20, 28-30, 26-24, 24-22 in Saturday’s late match.
Sunday’s other matches will include Italy vs. Brazil followed by Japan vs. Russia. Medals will be presented to the teams after the final match, with the championship trophy scheduled to be presented following the U.S. match.