Souhan: Berg enjoys view from atop world of volleyball

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 31, 2012 - 6:47 AM

The former Gophers star is now the U.S. captain, orchestrating a talented squad toward its first gold medal.

hide

The United States’ Destinee Hooker dominated play against Brazil. “The kid is just incredible,” said teammate Christa Harmotto.

Photo: Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

LONDON - Lindsey Berg's world travels usually keep her far from her alma mater, the University of Minnesota.

Hugh McCutcheon has yet to start his next job, as the volleyball coach at the University of Minnesota.

Both are scheduled to arrive on campus this fall, Berg to receive an award and McCutcheon to coach the Gophers, and by that time they should be wearing the first Olympic gold medals ever won by the United States women's volleyball team.

Berg, the team captain, and McCutcheon, the team's coach, were the brains behind the United States' 3-1 victory over Brazil on Monday in the second round of pool play. Neither wanted to admit that beating Brazil was symbolic or important. Maybe that's because the U.S., in the past two years, has evolved from targeting Brazil to expecting the world.

The U.S. is ranked first in the world by a wide margin. Four years ago in Beijing, Brazil beat the Americans for the gold. Since then, with McCutcheon taking over as coach, the U.S. has accelerated past the Brazilians, beating them in all four meetings this year.

"I don't think I've seen our peak yet in this squad," Berg said. "And that's exciting, and scary, because I think we're amazing."

The adjective preferred by the British would be "brilliant." The U.S. won 25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21.

"Gosh, it's so incredible to be playing with this team," Berg said. "Even when we were down in the third, we fought back and had a chance to win that set. That helped us in the fourth.

"They're an emotional team. If they had stomped us in the third, they would have come out in the fourth with a lot of confidence."

The Americans are chasing history. The women never have won an Olympic gold, and McCutcheon is trying to become only the second coach ever to win an Olympic volleyball gold medal with men and women. He led the U.S. men to gold four years ago in Beijing.

As with most people chasing milestones, Berg and McCutcheon are concentrating on the nagging details of their craft. For all of top hitter Destinee Hooker's high-velocity, high-altitude smashes, the play that defined the Brazil match was a dramatic save, well off-court, by Christa Harmotto that led to a key point in the fourth set.

"Anytime one of our middle blockers makes a spectacular defensive play it's a boost," Berg said. "I think it shows our defensive desire now, our drive. We had a couple of balls that dropped in the first set and at one point we just said, "That's enough.'"

Berg and McCutcheon stressed the intricacy of teamwork required in volleyball, but it was hard to overlook Hooker's physical dominance. She couldn't have been more effective if she had used stilts and a tennis racket.

At 6-4, with tremendous leaping ability, Hooker's elevator stops on a different floor.

"There are certain plays where you just shake your head and have to smile," Harmotto said. "The kid is just incredible."

Asked whether she is tempted to constantly set up Hooker, Berg gave a glimpse into the responsibilities of a setter, and captain.

"You can't do that because teams will just start going to block her," Berg said. "My job is to put my hitters in the best situations possible. I try to watch the block and get everyone a 1-on-1. That's my goal, in my position.

"Destinee hits a fast set as well, so if they want to go to her they have to leave so early that I can see it."

Berg's international and national team career has led to this moment. She is the captain of the best team in the world.

"I'm honored, completely honored to be on a team with this many incredible players and to be named captain," she said. "It's something I've worked on for a long time, to be a leader and to make the players around me better. Honored -- that's the only word I've got for that."

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Lindsey Berg

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - LP: B. Finnegan 4 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 11
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
Montreal 3
New Jersey 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Dallas 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 7
Detroit 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Chicago 2 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Nashville 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Minnesota 7
Florida 1 FINAL(OT)
Arizona 2
Washington 3 3rd Prd 10:13
Calgary 1
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
UAB 17 FINAL
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
UNLV 20 FINAL
Utah State 34
Temple 14 FINAL
UCF 34
(15) Arizona 59 FINAL
Washington St 37
Texas-El Paso 34 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 31 FINAL
Colorado State 45
Syracuse 6 FINAL
(21) Clemson 16
Texas State 22 FINAL
ULM 18
(3) Ole Miss 7 FINAL
(24) LSU 10
(4) Alabama 34 FINAL
Tennessee 20
So Carolina 35 FINAL
(5) Auburn 42
(13) Ohio State 31 FINAL
Penn State 24
(20) USC 14 3rd Qtr 9:25
(19) Utah 10
(14) Arizona State 10 2nd Qtr 0:43
Washington 0
Nevada 0 1st Qtr 11:23
Hawaii 0
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 FINAL
New England 1
Portland 2 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Colorado 0 FINAL
Vancouver FC 1
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 28 FINAL
Winnipeg 23

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings do Sunday in Tampa Bay?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close