RIO DE JANEIRO -- Kelsey Robinson lifted Courtney Thompson into a congratulatory embrace when the match finally ended, celebrating the reserve setters timely ace serve in a hard-fought win against Italy.It took something from everyone for the United States womens volleyball team to stay unbeaten in Rio.Its so special when you see Courtney get an ace, Robinson said. Were lifting her up. Thats something that people dont see shes been working on every single day outside of practice.Thompson is part of a trio of setters that is playing a key role for the top-ranked Americans in their chase for the first ever U.S. gold in womens volleyball at these Olympics.Alisha Glass, Carli Lloyd and Thompson huddle together during timeouts with their position coach, and words fly around for about a minute as they compare notes before returning to play.Its a rare roster to carry three setters on a 12-player Olympic squad, yet that is how valuable each of these women is to coach Karch Kiraly and the U.S. quest. The quarterfinal-bound Americans (4-0) held off the Italians 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20 on Friday. It marked the first time Italy won a set in four Olympic matches.While coach Tom Black is often focused on the opponents tendencies, he trusts the three setters to let each other know if were letting it rip or we need to pick up the speed.Lloyd earned her spot with a remarkable run leading up to Rio. At 31, Thompson is the oldest player for the Americans and their heart and soul behind the scenes -- and typically the first to bust a dance move in the corner of the court where the backups stand.Shes absolutely on the court, Glass said of Thompsons influence. Thats her, shes never not going to be somewhere, you just feel her no matter what ... She just has such a presence. Theres no way we come here without her and do as well as were doing.In May 2013, it was Glass and Thompson along with a few other young setters not in Rio who set the example for the Americans during this four-year Olympic cycle on how to commit to being a team of constant learners, driven to be better in every aspect of the game -- from their technical play such as a pivot move they worked to perfect to make the offense faster and unpredictable, to the mental side and everything else like tireless work in the weight room.They were the position group that embraced that the earliest and led the charge and modeled it for the other positions, with Tom leading them early in 2013, Kiraly said. We started running our offense faster, which just means the sets dont go high out to the sideline, they go low and fast.No drama. No hard feelings about playing time. Just a joint desire to reach the top of the medal stand in Rio.Its different than overseas. We dont have that same relationship with other setters and a setting coach, Lloyd said. I love it.Thompson, who was called upon to fill in for injured setter Lindsey Berg in London four years ago, understands that her moments stepping on the Olympic court before leaving Brazil might be limited.Every person in this program has an important role and I certainly feel that way about mine, she said. Its unique, but its for a reason.Thompson is constantly talking, moving, encouraging from every angle.Shes the spine of the team in a lot of ways, Black said.During some matches, players in the sub box rub their hands together as if warming them then sending in the good energy, added Thompson.Shes always cheering.Nice ups!Nice pass, you guys!And when the Americans needed to secure their Olympic berth through a second-chance qualifier back in January at Lincoln, Nebraska, it was Thompson who sent out a group email ahead of time letting her teammates know the time was now. The U.S. had already missed a chance at last years World Cup in Tokyo.One night in Lincoln, Thompson, Nicole Fawcett and Robinson ran through Pinnacle Bank Arena with arms waving pretending we won the gold medal, Thompson said.They hope to do it for real in Rio. Cheap Josh Reddick Jersey . -- The Sacramento Kings are set to become the first major professional sports franchise to accept Bitcoin virtual currency for ticket and merchandise purchases. Cheap J. R. Richard Jersey . John Tavares, Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo were also being counted on to slow down sizzling Rangers forward Rick Nash. That plan didnt go so well early. http://www.cheapastrosjerseys.com/?tag=cheap-justin-verlander-jersey . -- In one brief spurt, Brazil turned a close game into a rout and proved again it will be a strong World Cup favourite. Cheap Nolan Ryan Jersey . -- Bobby Ryan helped the U. Cheap Jose Cruz Jersey . -- When the Florida Panthers fell behind by two goals in the first period to the top team in the NHL, it appeared they were on their way to yet another loss.The quarter-finals at the Grand Slam of Darts kick off on Friday evening, with Michael van Gerwen continuing the defence of last year’s title. You can watch the first two quarter-final matches live on Sky Sports 2 HD at 7pm.Van Gerwen, in Fridays opener, takes on Brendan Dolan for the second time in this years tournament. The mighty Dutchman first dished out a 5-1 hammering to Dolan in the group stages, but after the Northern Irishman successfully followed him into the knock-out stages, they will meet again with a semi-final spot at stake.Van Gerwen owns an ominous 15-3 head-to-head record against Dolan - he lost two in a row, five years ago, but has otherwise just lost a World Cup of Darts match in 2014.Phil The Power Taylor plays Peter Snakebite Wright in Fridays second quarter-final. 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