U.S. volleyball team wins first match since tragedy
The United States men's volleyball team observed a moment of silence before their first Olympic match on Sunday and proceeded to beat Venezuela in five sets.
The Americans won the match 25-18, 25-18, 22-25, 21-25 and 15-10, buoyed by Clayton Stanley, who led the team with 22 points.
The team was playing just a day after learning that the father-in-law of coach Hugh McCutcheon had been killed in a random attack in Beijing.
Todd Bachman was fatally stabbed Saturday near Beijing's Drum Tower tourist site. Barbara Bachman, his wife, was in critical but stable condition on Sunday after undergoing eight hours of surgery. They are the parents of 2004 Olympic volleyball player Elisabeth Bachman, who is married to McCutcheon.
The assailant later leaped to his death.
With McCutcheon joining his grieving family, assistant coach Ron Larsen has taken over the reins for the U.S. squad.
"We wanted to have a moment of silence where we could gather our thoughts before starting this journey," U.S. team captain Tom Hoff said.
"It was a moment of silence to honour the Bachman family."
Hoff said the New Zealand-born McCutcheon gave the team a pep talk late Saturday in a conference call.
"We're totally aware that we may see him and we may not," Hoff said. "That's completely all right with us. He has other priorities."
The Americans are looking to get on the podium after losing to Russia in the bronze medal match at the 2004 Athens Games.
Venezuela is making its first Olympic men's volleyball appearance.
Russia opened the men's volleyball tournament against Serbia. After dropping the first set 20-25, Russia won three straight (25-21, 25-22 and 25-18).
Bronze medallists at the 2004 Olympic Games, the Russians are considered medal hopefuls in Beijing.
Italy knocked off Japan in four sets, winning 25-19, 25-18, 23-25 and 25-17. Italy took silver in Athens, losing to Brazil in the final.
The defending champion Brazilians swept Egypt on Sunday, and Bulgaria beat China in four sets in other action on Sunday. Poland was battling Germany in the last match of the night.
Volleyball is taking place at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium and the Capital Indoor Stadium, also in Beijing.
With files from the Associated Press