Alexander Joe, Getty Images
Americans Riley Salmon, David Lee and Clayton Stanley of USA go for a block against Italy's Alessandro Fei in a volleyball pool match at the Beijing Olympics.

BEIJING — Still missing its absent head coach, the U.S. 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 victory over 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.

One said to be in life-threatening condition, Barbara Bachman is now listed as stabile, 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 with 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," Rich Lambourne said.

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 to date.


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