BEIJING Opening preliminary pool play at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a hard-fought four-set victory over Japan, the U.S. women's volleyball team was riding dual roller coasters of momentum and emotion.
Momentum, as in scoring the final seven points of the third game to rally for a 25-19 set triumph and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five match, and then doing the same in the fourth and final set for the 3-1 final score.
And emotion, as in the highs of U.S. head coach and former Chinese Olympic volleyball gold medalist "Jenny" Lang Ping returning home to a hero's welcome in the People's Republic of China, and American players having to battle through the heartache for a former national teammate whose father was stabbed to death and mother seriously injured in an attack at a central Beijing tourist site earlier in the day.
And so, Team USA takes its opener in not-so-typical fashion, winning 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21 at Capital Gymnasium. The Americans meet Cuba in their next match Monday.
Many of the American players were dealing with the shocking news of the noon-hour stabbing of Todd and Barbara Bachman, parents of former U.S. national team member and 2004 Olympian Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon. She is married to current U.S. men's head volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon.
Todd Bachman was killed and Barbara Bachman hospitalized with serious, life-threatening injuries when they were attacked by a lone, knife-wielding assailant at the Drum Tower. The Chinese man then leaped to his death from the structure's second story.
Elisabeth McCutcheon, known during her playing days as "Wiz," was not injured in the incident.
The thoughts and worries and empathies kept crossing the U.S. players' minds during the match, said outside hitter Logan Tom, who played in the '04 Athens Games with McCutcheon."It's difficult to put that in the back of your heads while you're focused on the match," the former Highland High star said in tears, her voice starting to break for the first of several times. "It's hard, you know. We all know Wiz."