U.S. women dominate en route to FIVB World Grand Prix title

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The U.S. women’s volleyball team won the FIVB World Grand Prix for the fourth time in six years, claiming the international title in its first time as final round host in Omaha, Neb., this past weekend.

The Americans, the reigning World champions, Olympic silver medalists and top-ranked team in the world, won all five of their matches against five of the top seven ranked teams in the world — Olympic champion Brazil, Olympic bronze medalist Japan, China, Russia and Italy.

The six nations in the final round combined to win every medal at every Olympics and World Championships dating to 2008.

The U.S. is rolling under coach Karch Kiraly, an Olympic indoor and beach volleyball champion. The Americans won their first World Championship last year, sweeping then-No. 1 ranked Brazil in the semifinals, and eye the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro next year.

The U.S.’ next major tournament is the FIVB World Cup, where the top two finishers qualify for the Olympics (though there will also be later chances to qualify for Rio). The World Cup runs from Aug. 22 to Sept. 6 in Japan.

“My first summer [on the national team], so I don’t know that much, but this seems hard to beat,” tournament MVP Karsta Lowe, a 6-foot-4, 22-year-old All-America outside hitter at UCLA, said on NBC. “We played some strong teams, but I think we’re going to play some even stronger teams at World Cup. People are going to put their best rosters out there.”

Video: U.S. women’s volleyball team wins breakthrough World Championship