It took 62 years, but the U.S. women's volleyball team is finally the best in the world. The women won the FIVB World Championships on Sunday, the first time its ever claimed gold in a major international competiion, by defeating China, 3-1.
It had been more than a decade since the team even made it to the final – it last took silver in 2002. To get to this year's gold-medal game, the U.S. had to take down perennial power Brazil, who beat the Americans in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic finals.
“I constantly think about how this is bigger than us,” captain Christa Dietzen told Universal Sports. “I think it represents the past players of USA Volleyball and everybody that has built this program from the bottom up. And it represents the present players, and not just the 14 of us who are here, but all 25 to 40 of us who have come through the gym this summer and made each other better.”
Coach Karch Kiraly echoed Dietzen's comments in an on-court interview after the win.
“We came here to make history," Kiraly said. “The USA was due." Kim Hill earned MVP and best spiker honors, while Alisha Glass was named best setter.
“I think it’s just set the tone [going toward the Olympics], and I think it’s built our confidence,” Dietzen said. “But we still have a lot of business and a lot of work to do. But I think it’s made us hungrier.”
Olympic qualifying starts in 2015. Sunday's win was the perfect present for Dietzen, who was celebrating her 28th birthday.
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Danielle Elliot is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter!