LONDON (AP) — If Olympic gold were given for pluckiness Great Britain's women's volleyball team would surely stand atop the podium.

With government funding cut, the women took it upon themselves to raise money to prepare for the London Games. They went to schools for help, got local sponsors, and organized fundraisers.

"I think the team that we have here, the spirit, just the sheer passion that we have on this team is very special," wing spiker Lynne Beattie said. "We're a resilient team. We've persevered through lots of highs and lows and that shows on the court sometimes."

Britain is 1-2 in pool play and faces the Dominican Republic on Friday. The team won its first-ever Olympic match Monday, coming from behind for a five-set win over African champion Algeria 3-2.

Few expected the British women to win even a set, so the victory was off the charts.

The United States, 3-0 in pool play and already into the quarterfinals, take on Serbia on Friday. The Americans are the top-ranked team in the world and among the favorites to medal in London. They've never won an Olympic gold medal in women's indoor volleyball.

The team brought the silver home from Beijing after falling in the final to Brazil. In an early-round rematch in London, the U.S. came away with a 3-1 victory over the second-ranked Brazilians.

Italy and Russia, who are in the other six-team pool from the Americans, also are through to the quarterfinals. Italy faces Algeria and Russia plays Japan on Friday.

The No. 69-ranked British team, which trained for the Olympics at a small firehouse gym in the northern county of Yorkshire earned a berth in the Olympics as the host nation.

Women's volleyball has never been a popular sport in Great Britain, so the team's goal in the games was to build a legacy, coach Audrey Cooper said.

"I think without question every single one of them, and as a unit, we've done that," she said. "We've inspired lots of kids hopefully to take up our sport."

On Wednesday, Britain challenged Italy in the first set to the thrill of the home crowd at Earl's Court. The Italians responded to the threat and took the match 3-0.

"It's a shame we didn't take the set because I thought we worked hard to get ourselves in a position to do so, Cooper said.

Wins over Britain's remaining pool opponents, the Dominican Republic and Japan on Sunday, could get the women a quarterfinal berth. While unlikely, it's something Beattie believes is achievable.

"We always think it's possible," she said. "We got that win Monday night that no one expected."

Getting money for the team seemed out of reach two years ago when it lost government funding. It's self-funded now, after the players sponsored a charity bike ride and even called potential sponsors for help themselves.

Will the team's performance bring back some government support for the team? Cooper is hopeful and said her team's performance in the games and in upcoming competitions will give those making such decisions a chance to reconsider.

"That's all we can do is let our volleyball do the talking," she said. "I think that we can do some special things in the future."

But first there is the Dominican Republic.

"They know us a little bit and we sure as heck have been scouting them for the last year, so it's going to be a massive match," Cooper said. "We need everyone to get behind us on Friday. We're going to need that."


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