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No surprises in round one; USA-Brazil and Puerto Rico-Dominican Republic in semis

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As a reward for a perfect 5-0 run through the first round of the Pan-American Cup, the US women's volleyball team had today off. But they could still be seen in the BankUnited Center scouting Thursday's 8 p.m. marquee match-up between Puerto Rico and Argentina.

IPuerto Rico defeated Argentina in four sets; 25-18, 17-25, 25-19, and 25-19. Making her case for tournament MVP, Aurea Cruz carried Puerto Rico to victory with 24 points and four aces. Her team had a total of nine aces and looked strong throughout the match. Argentina took the second set and made the scores look close, but was clearly the inferior team.

Puerto Rico (5-1) will take on the Dominican Republic (4-0) today in what should be a heated battle for Caribbean supremacy. Both teams have been stellar: the Dominican Republic knocked off top-ranked Brazil and Puerto Rico is the only team to win a set from the US. The winner earns a spot in Saturday's final. That should be Puerto Rico, which boasts superior service, blocking, and kill statistics.

Top-ranked Brazil dispatched Peru easily in three sets; 25-11, 25-19, and 25-14. The victory sets up an earlier than expected, but still much appreciated Brazil-USA Olympic final rematch. Brazil (5-1) won that match, but the US (5-0) has been the best team by far in these Pan-Am games. No team has scored more or yielded less than the Americans, But Brazil statistically has the best spiker, second and third best blockers, second best digger, and two of the top three liberos in the tournament. However, if Jordan Larson and Kristin Richards do their thing, the Brazilians' samba will come to a screeching halt. Look for the US to win to set up a rematch with Puerto Rico on the 4th of July. 

In the earlier consolation matches, Canada beat Mexico in five sets and Costa Rica defeated Trinidad & Tobago in three sets.

Rather than seeing Transformers 2, check out Brazil-USA at 8 p.m. because number one versus number two in anything is bound to be special. And if you really can't get enough volleyball, Mexico plays Trinidad & Tobago at 11 a.m., Canada plays Peru at 1 p.m., and Costa Rica plays Argentina at 3 p.m. before the aforementioned semifinal matches take place between Puerto Rico-Dominican Republic and Brazil-USA. 

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