Following a memorable 3-2 win over defending champion China in the women's volleyball, the U.S. upset the host again in the Olympic men's event on Saturday to enter the quarterfinals undefeated.
The Americans celebrated the return of their head coach Hugh McCutcheon, who missed their three matches after his family members stabbed in Beijing last Saturday, with a 25-22, 25-12 and 25-18 victory.
Fang Yingchao gave his personal best so far, 13 points, to China to become the team's top scorer, while Clayton Stanley topped the American scorers with 14 points.
With the fourth triumph in hand, the U. S. , the World League champion this year, was qualified for the final eight in advance with one match remaining, but China's outlook of making the quarterfinals turned vague with a 2-2 win-loss record.
It is the second encounter between the two teams in three years and the U.S. won the last play in straight sets in the Grand Champions Cup in 2005. Their dominance continued at the Beijing Institute of Gymnasium on Saturday morning.
Fang Yingchao, China's X-factor for the hard 3-2 win over Japan, played as a rescuer again when the team go down 11-13 in the opener. The 1.98-meter opposite player scored five points to help China catch up 21-21, with the quick spikes of captain Shen Qiong from the left flank.
The Americans, however, soon kept their rivals at bay 24-21with three decent spikes. After missing one set point with an out-of-the-court serve, the U. S. clinched the set 25-22 with an unanswered spike of Stanley.
The U. S. dominated the second set as their powerful services broke the reception of China, who can barely organized effective counterattack. A determined U.S. took the set 25-12.
The decider is no surprise. The host managed to follow their rivals 18-24, but that the furthest they can go. Sean Rooney smashed a ball home to score the decisive point to his team, 25-18 in favor of the U.S.
Twelve teams are competing in two groups in the preliminary round with top four finishers from each group to qualify for the quarter-finals. China is grouped with Italy, the World Cup bronze medalist Bulgaria, the U.S., Japan and Venezuela in Pool A.
Poland tops Pool B with three wins, followed by Russia. Defending champion Brazil ranked the third after losing to Russia 3-1 on Thursday. Germany kept their chance alive after straight-set win over Egypt, while the latter quit quarterfinal competition with three losses in row.
This year's World League silver winner Serbia must win a do-or-die match against Germany later in the afternoon to secure a quarterfinal berth.
(Xinhua News Agency August 16, 2008)