- Associated Press - Monday, July 30, 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 international matches to the U.S. The teams are 21-21 all time.

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 Americans rallied for a 16-15 lead on Christa Harmotto’s block. It was back and fourth until Harmotto’s attempt to return Thaisa Menezes’ spike 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,” Brazilian captain Fabiana Oliveira said, adding the match might be a preview of the final.

China, Serbia, Turkey and South Korea are in the six-team pool with the U.S. and Brazil. Japan, Russia, Italy, Algeria, the Dominican Republic and Britain make up the other pool. The top four teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals.

The U.S. has been playing well under McCutcheon, who coached the U.S. men to the gold medal in Beijing before shifting to the women’s team. The American women have never won an Olympic gold medal in volleyball. The sport joined the Olympics in 1964.

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