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Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Saturday, 9 August 2008 18:31 UK

Emotional US win despite tragedy

The US women's indoor volleyball team
The US women's indoor volleyball team celebrate their win

The US women's volleyball team beat Japan 3-1 in their Olympic opener despite emotions running high after the murder of an ex-player's father.

Todd Bachman, father of former Olympian Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon, was stabbed to death earlier in the day while at a tourist site in Beijing.

"It's hard to put it into words," said tearful US player Logan Tom.

The US won 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21 in the first match of preliminary play at the Capital Indoor Stadium.

"The players were very down," said US coach Lang Ping. "It was very difficult for the players to move on that quickly.

"We only had three hours to deal with everything. (The players) called their parents.

"We were supposed to have a technical meeting but we didn't do it. I gave them time to speak to their families."

Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon, who was in the US team in Athens in 2004 and is married to men's coach Hugh McCutcheon, was not hurt in the attack.

The victory puts the United States joint top of pool A alongside China and Cuba on two points.

Hosts China, cheered on by 12,000 supporters, eased past Venezuela in straight sets and their captain Kun Feng said: "This is not the first time for me performing in the Olympics. But in front of such a large, cheering crowd, we were very excited.

"Of course we still have some pressure on our shoulders but, because of the home crowd, our motivation is strong."

Cuba, who came from behind to defeat Poland 3-1, struggled early on in the face of some solid defending.

606: DEBATE

The Cubans committed two net violations as their attacks faltered but Yumilka Ruiz and Rosir Calderon inspired a fine comeback.

"This game was pretty difficult from the beginning," said Ruiz. "We are very happy with this victory because it's not easy to win the first match of the Olympic Games."

In pool B, Brazil, Serbia and Italy all started with wins.

The 2007 World Cup winners Italy overcame 2004 Olympic silver medallists and reigning world champions Russia 3-1 in the opening match.

"I think that we played a very good match because we played with good rhythm," said Italy coach Massimo Barbolini.

"I'm very proud of my players because they've been able to play a very good match with a completely new formation. It's important to start the Olympic Games with an important victory."

Brazil called upon their key players Marianne Steinbrecher, Paula Pequeno and Sheilla Castro to cruise past Algeria 3-0 and tournament debutants Seria proved too strong for Kazakhstan.

"At the beginning our coordination was poor and then we improved and played better and better," said Serbia's Vesna Citakovic.

"In the third set our concentration was really poor and we lost that set. By the fourth set we started to improve. At the end the most important thing is that we won this game."


Olympics venues map

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Find out about the Beijing volleyball venue

Volleyball medals table

Sunday, 24 August 2008 10:17 UK
Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
1 also show each event results forBrazil 1 1 0 2
Men 0 1 0
Women 1 0 0
2 also show each event results forUSA 1 1 0 2
Men 1 0 0
Women 0 1 0
3 also show each event results forChina 0 0 1 1
Women 0 0 1
4 also show each event results forRussia 0 0 1 1
Men 0 0 1

see also
Olympics blog
07 Aug 08 |  Olympics
Beijing 2008
14 Feb 08 |  Olympics
US tourist dies in Beijing attack
09 Aug 08 |  Asia-Pacific


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