US women's volleyball team falls to Cuba, 3-0
BEIJING (AP) The U.S. women's volleyball team, playing its second match of an emotionally draining Olympics, fell to Cuba in three sets on Monday.
Cuba, ranked third in the world, overpowered the U.S. women 25-15, 26-24, 25-17 and went up 2-0 in preliminary round play. The U.S. women were even at 1-1.
USA Volleyball is reeling from the stabbing death of Todd Bachman, father of former Olympian Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman McCutcheon and father-in-law of the U.S. men's coach, Hugh McCutcheon. Bachman was attacked by a knife-wielding man at a tourist site in Beijing on Saturday.
His wife, Barbara, was seriously wounded by the assailant, who jumped to his death from a balcony of the Drum Tower, a landmark the Americans were visiting.
U.S. Olympics Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel said Monday that Barbara Bachman's condition had been upgraded from critical to serious but stable.
Many of the women on the current U.S. team played with Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon in the 2004 Athens Olympics. The Bachmans frequently accompanied USA Volleyball to tournaments and were especially close to the women's team.
U.S. setter Lindsey Berg said she wasn't sure if the tragedy played into Monday's loss, but said "it has been an emotionally draining 48 hours."
"We're still trying to stay strong for Wiz and the entire family, and for USA Volleyball," she said.
The U.S. women defeated Japan in their opening game on Saturday night just hours after hearing the news.
Against Cuba, the United States struggled.
The U.S. women were up 5-1 in the first set when Cuba called a time-out to regroup - and came back to surge ahead 8-5. Cuba, which won its first match against Poland, went on to claim the set 25-15.
The United States kept it closer in the second, but Yumilka Ruiz's cross-court spike for match point gave the set to Cuba. The U.S. was similarly outdueled in the third.
Ruiz led Cuba with 13 points. Tayyiba Haneef-Park had 13 for the United States.
"Whoever plays well wins the game. Cuba did great, especially with serving," U.S. coach Jenny Lang Ping said.
The Chinese fans at Capital Indoor Stadium cheered loudly for Lang, a former star for China's national team. Many stayed to applaud and take pictures as she left the court after the match.
In other women's volleyball matches on Monday, Italy defeated Kazakhstan 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-21), Serbia defeated Algeria 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-13), Brazil beat Russia 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 26-16), China defeated Poland 3-1 (22-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-22) and Japan defeated Venzuela 3-0 (25-12, 25-17, 25-12).
The U.S. men opened competition Sunday with a victory over Venezuela. Assistant Ron Larsen was named interim head coach in McCutcheon's absence.
In an open letter released Monday by the U.S. Olympic Committee, the McCutcheons thanked friends, family, U.S. and Chinese officials and Olympic officials for their help during a "tremendously difficult time."
"We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of assistance and generosity that we have received and hope to convey our appreciation to everyone who has supported us and kept us in their thoughts and prayers," the letter said.