USA start strong - London 2012 - Volleyball
The USA kicked off their bid to land a long-awaited Volleyball gold medal in front of a boisterous Earls Court sell-out crowd on the opening day of action at London 2012.
After nine failed attempts to land the top prize, the US Volleyball Federation handed Hugh McCutcheon - the USA men's title-winning coach from Beijing 2008 - the role of making it a perfect 10 in London and a gripping win over Republic of Korea put them on the correct road.
Although given a scare by a spirited Korean fightback which saw them take the third set, the USA - with some vicious firepower at the net in the shape of the highly-talented Destinee Hooker - had enough resilience about them to get over the line.
The crowd got on their side too, warming to the personable Hooker as she pierced the Korea defence with a string of winners, as well as the brilliant Jordan Larson who contributed some quite staggering work on the ground.
The players were not shy of stating their targets afterwards either, with Danielle Scott-Arruda - competing in her fifth Olympics - saying: 'That's what we're here for, the gold.'
The USA apart, Italy were the most impressive side, having to get the better of opponents closer to their ability levels than anyone else in overcoming the Dominican Republic 3-1.
In the day's first game, Japan overcame a bout of nervousness to comfortably despatch of Algeria 3-0.
Masayoshi Manabe's side were 25-15 25-14 25-7 winners in front of an excitable crowd, and Saori Sakoda, who contributed nine winning points, said: 'We were a bit nervous and concerned before. We are pleased because it was our first match, everyone is very happy.'