Posted Aug 04, 2012By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) — Coach Hugh McCutcheon affectionately calls Logan Tom the “glue” of the U.S. women’s volleyball team. One of the team’s Beijing standouts, now she’s a mentor to the team’s younger stars.
It’s a steady presence he needs.
“She holds this team together,” McCutcheon said about the four-time Olympian.
It’s a different role for the 6-foot-1 outside hitter, who was the top scorer at the Beijing Games. Her experience is something that helps guide players like Destinee Hooker and Jordan Larson, fast becoming key parts of the London squad.
“That’s my job right now: Make sure everything is smooth and make sure all the girls’ heads are OK,” Tom said.
The top-ranked United States is one of the favorites at the London Games and has won all four of its preliminary round matches, dropping just two sets. Tom and Larson both have 42 points, tied for third in scoring behind Hooker with 85 and Foluke Akinradewo with 45.
Larson, who is making her Olympic debut in London, said Tom’s influence is invaluable.
“I always looked up to Logan when I was a kid, and now that I get to play next to her its such a cool feeling,” Larson said. “She’s so helpful and she has so much experience I can gain from. I’m really thankful for that.”
The team has already captured the top seed in its pool to advance to the quarterfinals, but wraps up the preliminary round on Sunday with a match against Turkey.
The U.S. women have never won a gold medal in indoor volleyball. The team fell just short at the Beijing Games under coach Lang Ping, taking home the silver after falling in the final to Brazil.
In London, the women defeated the Brazilians 3-1 in the preliminary round, and now the defending gold medalists are in danger of being eliminated.
China, Serbia, Turkey and South Korea are also in the pool with the United States and Brazil. Japan, Russia, Italy, Algeria, the Dominican Republic and Britain make up the other group.
The top four teams in each pool, based on a points system, advance to the quarterfinals — essentially, the knockout round — which starts Tuesday.
Tom is the daughter of the late Mel Tom, who played nine years in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears. She grew up in Salt Lake City and was a three-sport star — in volleyball, basketball and track — in high school.
Tom went on to become a two-time national volleyball player of the year while at Stanford, and in 2001 led the Cardinal to the NCAA championship over previously undefeated Long Beach State.
She was the youngest woman to be named to the U.S. women’s Olympic team when she was selected for the 2000 Sydney games.
In Beijing, she scored 124 points and started in all 33 sets for the United States.
Like most of the elite volleyball players in the United States, Tom plays professionally overseas. Last season she played in Turkey for Fenerbahce, which won the CEV Volleyball Champions League. South Korean star Kim Yeon-Koung, who is also playing in the Olympics, is a teammate on Fenerbahce and said recently that Tom was her favorite player.
But Tom isn’t completely settled into her new role bringing along the team’s rookies. She’s still aiming for a gold — and she’s willing to work for it.
“If it was destiny we’d be sitting here and waiting for it to happen,” she said. “I think we’re going out and grabbing it.”
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