Jiangmen, China, June 6, 2018 - Team USA continued on their winning ways, overpowering Brazil 3-1 (25-23 26-28, 25-21, 25-18) and seeing big-hitting Lauren Gibbemeyer shine with 16 points in women's fourth-round action in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.
The Americans look to have played themselves into an irresistible run of form as the VNL finals start to loom on the horizon and their effort in the last set in particular would not have made pretty viewing for any potential rivals come the business end of the tournament.
The likes of middle blocker Gibbemeyer - who had eight huge blocks - along with wing spiker and captain Jordan Larson (16 points) and middle blocker Foluke Akinradewo (13 points) showcased once again just how deep their talent pool runs. Consider the fact that none of the three took part in the previous night's clash with Russia.
Brazil stuck in there, after their heroics the night before against China, but just couldn't break the shackles applied by the Americans' accuracy and their court coverage. Leading the way for the beaten brigade were middle blocker Ana Carolina Da Silva with 14 points and wing spiker Amanda Francisco with 12. There was some mystery at the end as Brazilian star Tandara Caixeta sat out the third and fourth stanzas, after seeming to struggle in the first two on her way to five points.
It was a battle between the top two teams in the VNL, coming in to this fourth-round encounter, and it certainly lived up to its billing with the lead fluctuating throughout and neither outfit really ever dominating.
But something had to give at the Jiangmen Sports Hall, whether that be the USA's record run of eight straight-sets victories at a world level event, or the Brazilian's run of nine straight wins in this inaugural VNL. The first mark to fall was the American's run of 25 straight sets won - when Brazil took the second set 28-26. So their record run was over - but they were still delighted to keep their overall run going (they've now won nine in a row) while bringing Brazil's to an end.
United States coach Karch Kiraly had signaled his intentions by reinstating captain Larson to the starting line-up, having rested the wing spiker in the previous night's straight-sets victory over Russia. Brazil's Jose Roberto Guimaraes, for his part opted to repeat the starting line-up he had used in his team's epic 3-2 win over hosts China.
Larson's poise was immediately in evidence with four telling spikes, as was the American plan to serve deep, as they took a tight first set despite having fallen five points behind at one stage. As it was against the Russians, setter Carli Lloyd's serving was another potent force throughout for the USA.
The USA (10-1) now finish up round four with a Thursday night match-up against China, while Brazil (9-2) will look to get back to winning ways against Russia.