US women volleyball team defeats Venezuela 3-1

Aug. 13, 2008, 2:56 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) The U.S. women's volleyball team, appearing determined to put aside the grief that hung over their first two Olympic matches, defeated Venezuela 3-1 on Wednesday.

With the 25-17, 20-25, 25-14 25-18 victory, the U.S. women improved to 2-1 in preliminary pool play. Venezuela fell to 0-3 and has no chance to advance to the quarterfinals.

The U.S. team was shaken when its coach's father-in-law, Todd Bachman, was fatally stabbed in Beijing last weekend and his wife, Barbara Bachman, was seriously injured.

The couple's daughter, Elisabeth "Wiz" Bachman McCutcheon, played for the women's team in Athens and is married to U.S. men's volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon. She is close to many of the players on the current Olympic team.

For the match against Venezuela, players wrote "Wiz" on their arms and shoulders in marker.

The victory improved the U.S. team's chances of advancing out of the preliminary round.

There are 12 women's teams competing in Beijing, divided into two pools. The top four teams that emerge from round-robin play in each pool will advance.

In other matches, Ekaterina Kabeshova led Russia with 14 points in its 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan (25-19, 25-18, 25-11).

Italy beat Algeria 3-0 (25-7, 25-20, 25-12), and Brazil defeated Serbia 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-23).

Cuba prevailed over rival China 3-2 (18-25, 14-25, 25-23, 32-30, 15-13) and remained undefeated while Japan defeated Poland 3-2 (25-21, 25-20, 18-25, 23-25, 15-11).

The U.S. team let down in the second set, but U.S. wing spiker Logan Tom recovered from a slow start with a spike for match point in the third. Tom was even better in the fourth, and finished with 15 points.

Tayyiba Haneef-Park led the U.S. with 17 points. Jayce Asndrade had 15 points for Venezuela.

The teams met at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium, the smaller of two venues for the volleyball competition.

As with their first two games, the U.S. team had considerable support from the crowd, not only because of a sizable contingent of U.S. fans, but also because of the Chinese on hand to see coach Jenny Lang Ping.

Lang led the Chinese women to a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and is considered a national sports icon in China. She has even been honored with a postage stamp bearing her likeness.

Before losing to Cuba, the U.S. women opened Saturday night with a victory over Japan.

That was just hours after they learned of the attack on Todd Bachman, killed while visiting the 13th century Drum Tower with his wife and daughter, who was not hurt. The assailant jumped to his death from the tower, a popular tourist site.

Barbara Bachman is in serious but stable condition at a Beijing hospital.

Todd Bachman was an avid volleyball supporter, particularly of the women's team, and he often traveled with his wife to competitions.

Ron Larsen took over as interim coach of the U.S. men in McCutcheon's absence.