|Phil Bush, FIVB Broadcaster|
Over the previous three decades, you'd be hard pressed to find someone in athletics with a greater level of expertise in volleyball production and promotion than Phil Bush. He will be entering his fourth year working for the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) as a broadcaster on the FIVB “Match of the Week.” He has also handled 17 seasons working for FSN South, ESPNU, CSS and Sun Sports providing both play-by-play and color analysis on volleyball broadcasts. Through his MavRen Marketing & Productions company, Bush has worked in the production and promotion of volleyball events for over 25 years.
Thursday, 10 AM ET
Korea upset Italy to get to the semifinals, while the USA took care of business against the over-matched Dominicans despite starting setter Lindsey Berg on the sideline nursing her injury. Courtney Thompson ran the offense very well in her absence, which should come to no surprise. The interesting thing about this USA team is all it talks about is continued improvement as opposed to sustained success. Keep getting better and better, no matter how good you are or think you might be.
Korea has made every team that has played them work and work hard. Win or lose, Korea makes you earn every point. They upset a higher ranked team again in Italy, but I don’t think it was because Italy had an off match. Korea's style of play wore down the Italians to where it took them out of system.
I called the Korean team a counter-puncher last time and I feel the same way today. Team USA beat Korea in the first pool play match 3-1 (25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21), but the Koreans put up a strong fight, finding their stride in the third set. Destinee Hooker led the Americans with 21 points. Head coach Hugh McCutcheon took note of Korea's fight after the pool play match: "As you can see, once they got going, they're a tough team."
Looking ahead to Thursday, Korea will not be put off by losing rallies. They will simply keep grinding like they did in their upsets over Italy. Make no mistake, I am sure that Korea took a lot away from the last time these teams squared off. Korea will make the USA win every point and it would not surprise me if we were talking about four or five very close games. If you like defense and long rallies, USA vs. Korea may set some Olympic records that you don’t want to miss! They are way past the point of simply trying to keep up with a team like the USA...they are here to win.
|Kim Yeon Koung|
For Korea, #10 Kim Yeon Koung has been flat out sensational during the Olympics. Against Italy in the quarterfinals, all she did was go for 28 points. She had 29 when the USA last played Korea, so she clearly has plenty to offer. She is the top scorer in the tournament by far with 165, 41 more than the second most, Yekaterina Gamova of Russia. You think Hooker is having a good Olympics? Well, Kim has 44 more kills than her!
What to watch for in Team USA:
- The setting situation is obviously the first thing. What will happen here? Hard to say, but I would not be surprised to see Thompson starting, and saving Berg.
- Don’t let other Korean players get on track. Kim will clearly get her kills. Don’t let other players beat you.
- Use some different players to make Korea think. Scott nor Hodge played the first time against the Koreans. It isn’t a question of the starters not responding, it is forcing the Koreans to make adjustments to things they have not seen.
- The process works and has not failed the USA yet. Don’t have any mental breakdowns against the Koreans who can frustrate any team.