USA Women Edge Cuba, Reach NORCECA Semifinals

Sept. 17, 2003

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - Former Stanford Cardinal Logan Tom scored a match-high 20 points to lead a balanced attack as the USA women's national volleyball team clinched a spot in the 2003 NORCECA Zone Championship semifinals with a 3-2 win over Cuba at the Pabellon de Voleibol at Olympic Park Tuesday night.

Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah) had 14 kills and match-highs in blocks (three) and service aces (three) in the 20-25, 25-20, 25-20, 18-25, 15-13 victory that secured the top spot in Pool B for the United States.

The match was delayed for nearly 20 minutes with the scored tied at 4-all in the fifth set when a power outage darkened the brand-new arena. Once power was restored, the United States (the No. 2-ranked team in the world) and Cuba (three-time defending Olympic gold medalists) provided some electricity of their own.

Team USA led by as many as four points in the fifth set, 12-8, then saw the Cubans go on a 5-1 run to tie the set at 13-all. But Nancy Metcalf ripped a kill to give the United States a 14-13 edge, and then Tom blasted a service ace to clinch the win for the Americans.

'As I expected, it was a very tough match,' explained Team USA head coach Toshi Yoshida. 'We were kind of up and down. We made a lot of unforced errors which continued all the way through the match, but the last two points were great.'

'We came mentally prepared to play five sets and win the match by two points and that was exactly the way it happened,' said USA captain Danielle Scott, who scored 13 points. 'As I said before we didn't expect a three-set match and we don't expect it the rest of the tournament.'

Metcalf (Hull, Iowa) started two sets and came off the bench in two others but still scored 13 points on 11 kills, one block and one ace. Scott (Baton Rouge, La.) posted 10 kills, two blocks and one ace as the United States earned a day off Wednesday, Sept. 17, and an automatic berth in the tournament semifinals, which begin on Thursday, Sept. 18.

Team USA now finds itself one win away from advancing to the first Olympic qualifier, the World Cup, which will take place in Japan from Nov. 1-15. The top two teams at the NORCECA Zone Championships earn automatic bids to the World Cup.

'Tonight's game was a big game for us for a couple of reasons,' said Metcalf. 'We wanted to win our pool to have the day off tomorrow. Plus, playing Cuba is always a game we get fired up for.

'I felt like our team executed the things we've been practicing and really stayed together; we played off each others' energy,' she added. 'There were some distractions during the game, but we stayed focused and played together. Winning was a great team effort tonight.'

Keba Phipps (Las Vegas, Nev.) added nine points on nine kills while Heather Bown (Yorba Linda, Calif.) chipped in with eight points on three kills, three aces and two blocks as Team USA defeated Cuba for the third time this year without a loss and improved its season record to 18-9.

'It was a game of high and lows for both teams,' added Yoshida. 'We brought Nancy in at the right time and she delivered some huge points. Our blocking was also a key.

'We could have won in four sets,' he added, 'but the Cubans played a great (fourth) set by establishing a very quick pace. You have to give them credit.'

Robyn Ah Mow-Santos (Honolulu, Hawaii) made her second-straight start at setter after missing more than a year due to pregnancy and the birth of her son in February of this year. She was understandably excited following Tuesday night's thrilling win.

'Tonight wasn't just a game for the team, but it was a huge game for me, personally,' she explained. 'I needed to prove to myself that I still got it in me! As for the game we did what we practiced, got some key blocks, and put the ball down when we needed to. I think we played well as a team...everyone did their part.'

Yumilka Ruiz scored 16 points on 16 kills to lead Cuba, which will play the No. 3 team from Pool A, Puerto Rico, in a crossover match on Wednesday night. Zoila Barros scored 13 points on 10 kills, two blocks and one ace, while Liana Mesa added 11 points on nine kills, one block and one ace.

In other action Tuesday night, the Dominican Republic defeated Trinidad and Tobago, 3-0, and Canada edged Puerto Rico, 3-1. With the win, the Dominicans clinched a semifinal berth by winning Pool A with a perfect 3-0 record. Canada finished second in Pool A with a 2-1 record and will face the No. 3 team from Pool B, Costa Rica, in a Wednesday crossover match.

courtesy of USA Volleyball

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