BEIJING Still missing its absent head coach, the United States men's
volleyball team won its second Olympics match in as many outings, battling
back from a first-set falter to down Italy in four games Tuesday.
The Americans improved to 2-0 in Pool A play and have an important match
against Bulgaria on Thursday. In the latest FIVB world rankings, the U.S. is
No. 3 and Bulgaria No. 4.
The four-set win against Italy (24-26, 25-22, 25-15, 25-21) at Capital
Gymnasium came a lot easier for the U.S. men than their five-set victory
over upset-minded Venezuela two days earlier.
Of course, they've had the two extra days to continue dealing with the
bizarre and tragic stabbings of head coach Hugh McCutcheon's in-laws at a
Beijing tourist site, with Todd Bachman killed and Barbara Bachman
hospitalized with serious injuries.
Once said to be in life-threatening condition, Barbara Bachman is now
listed as stable, but McCutcheon and his wife, Elisabeth, a former U.S.
national volleyball player and 2004 Olympian known as "Wiz," have remained
at the hospital with Barbara Bachman.
"Life versus Olympics it's all about perspective," said U.S. middle
blocker Ryan Millar, who echoed his teammates sentiments that some normalcy
and better on-court focus is returning to the team each passing day.
"But when we come into the locker room and he's not the one who's
speaking to us and we look at the sideline and he's not the one there
that's a quick reminder that he's out," said Rich Lambourne.
Clayton Stanley led the United States with 19 kills, with William Priddy
contributing 18. Millar posted seven kills, three blocks and a pair of
service aces, while Lambourne tied for team-best honors with 10 digs.
The United States is 2-0 in the six-team Group A, with all other teams
except Bulgaria having suffered at least one loss in two matches to date.