Filipino Chinese American Justine Wong-Orantes plays key role in first gold medal win for US women’s volleyball team

Justine Wong-Orantes, the libero for Team USA women’s indoor volleyball team. | Photo courtesy of Instagram/@jwongorantes

THE U.S. women’s indoor volleyball team made history during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with its first-ever gold medal — and among its 12 members is a decorated player of Filipino descent.

Justine Wong-Orantes, who hails from Cypress, California, helped Team USA soar to victory as its libero, also known as a defensive specialist, as they defeated Brazil 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 to claim Olympic gold on Sunday, August 8, at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo.

She was an integral member to the team’s success during the final match. “She was all over the court for the entirety of the game, setting up points for teammates throughout all three sets,” according to NBC Olympics. 

The 25-year-old, who is of Filipino-Chinese and Mexican descent, has been a member of the U.S. women’s national team since 2016, with notable achievements such as Best Libero in the 2019 Pan American Cup, and Best Digger in the 2019 NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship under her belt, according to Team USA.

Volleyball is a family affair for the Southern California native, with her parents Robbie Orantes and Winnie Wong playing the sport as well, and inspiring their daughter at an early age. Her father is a coach and trainer for the Mizuno Long Beach Volleyball club team.

Wong-Orantes is the youngest known player to ever earn a AAA CBVA rating after winning a AAA beach tournament at the age of 12. In college at the University of Nebraska, she led the Huskers to the 2015 NCAA indoor title. She was also named the Female Athlete of the Year at Nebraska for the 2016-17 academic year.

 

 

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A post shared by Justine Wong-Orantes (@jwongorantes)

“WE DID THE DAMN THING… OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALISTS,” wrote Wong-Orantes on Instagram.

The U.S. team was unrelenting from the get-go, winning the first set with 25-21 courtesy of outside hitter Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, and opposite Jordan Larson.

Brazil tried to recover in the second set by winning the first two points, but the U.S. gained the lead and pulled ahead midway through thanks to opposite Annie Drews.

In the third set, the two teams traded points back and forth before the U.S. went on a 9-1 run and sealed its victory. The winning point came off a spike from Larson.

With this historic feat, the U.S. women’s team finally beat its longtime competitor that denied the team a gold finish in the 2008 Beijing Games and 2012 London Games.

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