"It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop ever, until you are dead."
That was said about Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator, but it also applies to the US women's volleyball team (except for the death part, but "kills" are part of volleyball) play in the World Championships here in Miami. The ladies absorbed everything Puerto Rico clubbed at them and won in four sets; 25-15, 25-20, 24-26, and 25-23. The victory over 19th- ranked Puerto Rico capped a perfect 5-0 run through pool play for the US and improved their head-to-head record with the island territory to 22-1.
That one defeat came in last year's Pan-American Cup. The remaining sting, coupled with the first real enthused pro-American crowd of this competition, propelled the US. Obstacles included 27 unforced errors and Puerto Rico's Aurea Cruz, who almost tallied a whole set's worth of points with 21 on the night.
Leading the way for the US were Jordan Larson and Kristin Richards, who each recorded 18 points. They may not be Jordan and Pippen, Axl and Slash, or Starsky and Hutch yet, but they are quickly becoming a dynamic duo. Only Guatemala has held them in check...and that was because the US coach gave them the night off.
But it wasn't just the Larson and Richards show. Nancy Metcalf added 17 points, Nellie Spicer tallied 17 assists, and Nicole Davis out-hustled everyone for 14 digs. In what has become a trend, the US won the block and service battles 13-4 and 5-1 respectively.
Truthfully, the US had its backs against the wall in this match. They dropped their first set of the tournament and were two points away from going to the deciding fifth set with the momentum on Puerto Rico's side. This match revealed the Americans' resolve -- great teams win despite being less than their best.
By avoiding the upset, the US receives a first round bye and won't play again until Friday. The same can't be said about the Olympic gold medalists and top ranked team, Brazil. They were upset by the Dominican Republic in five sets and will have to play the feisty Peruvians on Thursday.
Brazil's road to glory just got a whole lot more treacherous, but the US can already see the freeway exit. It's called "Tournament Champion."
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