Italy women's volleyball player Aguero leaves team

Aug. 07, 2008, 8:53 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Italian women's volleyball player Taismary Aguero left Beijing on Thursday to travel to Cuba, where her mother is seriously ill, volleyball's international federation announced.

Aguero will miss at least three pool matches for Italy, which opens Olympic play on Saturday against Russia.

Alberto Rabiti, head of the Italian delegation, said Aguero was expected to be back in time for the quarterfinals.

"As we plan to see her coming back to Beijing soon, there will be no substitute to make up for her absence. They (the players) will remain 11," Rabiti said.

Aguero, 31, was born in Cuba but was granted Italian citizenship last year. An opposite, she played for the Cuban national team in the 1990s before moving to Italy in 2001. She is a veteran of the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

Coach Massimo Barbolini said Aguero's concern about her mother was the top priority. "All the other considerations come after her decision to go to Cuba to be with her 61-year-old mother," he said in a statement released by the federation, FIVB.

"Her absence in the first games of the Olympic Tournament is one more obstacle for us but this is a team used to overcoming adversity, gritting their teeth and going forward anyway. I am confident the team will do it this time as well," he said.

Italy opens play on Saturday against Russia.