TOKYO: The United States defeated Italy in a see-saw five-set battle at the Ariake Arena on Monday (Aug 2) to finish on top in Pool B of the women's volleyball preliminaries, overcoming the absence of injured ace spiker Jordan Thompson and another injury.
Thompson, who sat out the match after spraining her ankle on Saturday, watched as setter Jordyn Poulter suffered the same injury during the third set and was taken off the court in a wheelchair.
The world number-one team eventually prevailed in the close match, winning 21-25, 25-16, 25-27, 25-16, 15-12, and moving on to the quarter-finals.
US opposite Andrea Drews led the way with 22 points while four others finished in double figures.
"We stayed together as a team," US head coach Karch Kiraly said after the game.
"We had great trust in each other and we executed a very good game plan," he said, adding that Thompson was recovering and there was some hope she might come back during the tournament.
Drews has high ambitions for her first Olympics.
"Of course, our ultimate goal is to get gold," the 27-year-old said. "We have never done that before and we are working really hard and diligently to do that."
The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team was crushed by Turkey, dropping to fourth in Pool B, while Turkey finished third. Turkey fended off the ROC in full sets, driven by 16 blocks.
"We wanted to win this game so much before the final (knockout) run," Turkey's captain Eda Erdem said, adding that their determination powered their win.
Earlier, world champions Serbia overwhelmed South Korea in quick straight sets 25-18, 25-27, 25-15, with 10 blocks and 13 serve aces.
"I am happy with our performance today. Our serves and blocks were very good," said Serbia's opposite spiker Tijana Boskovic.
"We are really excited and we are confident. We want to go to semi-finals, of course," she said.
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