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Emotional victory

Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff  August 10, 2008 04:29 AM

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Just 24 hours after the tragic violent crime against their head coach’s family, the United States men’s volleyball took to the court with heavy hearts.

Before today’s opening match against Venezuela, the U.S. team delayed the start of the game to honor the memory of father-in-law of coach Hugh McCutcheon, who was stabbed to death on Saturday, allegedly by a Chinese man.

Following the brief tribute to Todd Bachman and his wife, Barbara, who remains in critical condition following the attack, the U.S. men quickly jumped out to a two set lead. However, they lost the next two games, before closing out a 25-18, 25-18, 22-25, 21-25, 15-10 victory at the Capital Indoor Stadium.

“It’s been tough the last 24 hours,” said middle blocker and team captain Thomas Hoff following the team’s opening round match. “It is hard to continue on. (We) came out in the fifth set with a lot of pressure and execution on the floor is very important to us players.”

Rob Browning, team leader of the men's volleyball squad, said in separate comments that the team had done well to get themselves in a position to play.

"We made a point of making sure things were as normal as possible,” Browning said. “After Hugh spoke to the team last night, the boys were ready to get their rest and get ready for their match today."

The U.S. Olympic Committee said in a statement that New Zealand-born McCutcheon had handed his head coach duties to his assistant for Sunday's game.

“Ron (Larsen) (assistant) and his staff did a great job of filling that hole,” Hoff said Ron’s staff did the best job they could. We really felt the loss as if it was one of our own. That’s why it hurt so much.”

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