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U.S. beats Brazil

By Anne M. Peterson
Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 1:52 a.m. HST, Jul 31, 2012

LONDON » The U.S. women's volleyball team defeated Brazil 3-1 on Monday at the Olympics in an early-round rematch of the Beijing Games final won by the Brazilians.

Destinee Hooker had 23 points and Jordan Larson added 18 for the top-ranked Americans, who won 25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21 to improve to 2-0 in pool play at Earls Court.

Sheilla Castro had 15 points for No. 2 Brazil, which was energized after a third-set victory but lost on Logan Tom's floater in the fourth set. Tom is playing in her fourth Olympics.

"I call her the glue," coach Hugh McCutcheon said. "She holds this team together."

Brazil has lost five straight matches to the U.S.

Larson, a wing spiker making her Olympic debut, hit a floater to put the Americans up 23-17 in the first set. She spiked for set point, with Brazil looking out of sorts.

The U.S. pulled away in the second set with a seven-point run, capped by Tom's spike. Brazil twice held off the U.S. at set point and had some momentum, until Hooker's kill ended it.

Brazil went up 8-3 early in the third, but the U.S. rallied for a 16-15 lead on Christa Harmotto's block. It was back and fourth until Harmotto's return went awry.

The result left the Brazilians at 1-1 in the pool.

"Now is not the time to think about the game, but to think about the next steps," Brazil's Fabiana Oliveira said, adding the match might be a preview of the final.

The U.S. took the top spot in the world rankings at the end of 2011, ending Brazil's four-year run at No. 1.

The U.S. began Olympic play with a 3-1 victory over South Korea behind Hooker's 21 points.

"She's really coming into a different game. She's not only a good hitter now; she blocks and she's playing some defense," said captain Lindsey Berg, a Punahou grad. "She's really developed her game to be a volleyball player instead of just this great athlete that jumps high and hits the ball hard."

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