Beijing, China, August 16, 2008 - The American Men had no trouble in defeating host China in straight sets at the
Beijing Institute of Technology.
The Americans marked the return of Head Coach
Hugh McCutcheon, who missed their three matches following the death of his
father-in-law in Beijing last Saturday, with a 25-22, 25-12, 25-18 victory.
"It's always good to have your leader back and it's
great to have the complete team in order. Hopefully we can focus on the matches
now that we have to play to win, rather than on the tragedy behind us,"
said U.S. player Kevin Hansen.
With the fourth triumph in hand, the United States, the
World League champion this year, qualified for the final eight with one
match remaining, but China's outlook of making the quarter-finals turned vague
with a 2-2 win-loss record.
In the first set, USA took an early lead. But the Chinese
fought back strongly. The 1.98-meter opposite Fang Yingchao scored five
points to help China catch up 21-21 with the quick spikes of captain Shen Qiong
from the left flank. Despite a stellar attacking performance from China's top
scorer Fang, USA were always one step ahead and Clayton Stanley drove in the deciding spike that secured the first set for the Americans.
The U. S. dominated the second set as their powerful
services broke the reception of China, who could barely organize an effective
counterattack and USA assembled a commanding 18-5 lead. The determined U.S.
took the set 25-12.
The decider was no surprise. China looked to close the
score briefly when they won a few points on the back of unforced errors from
the American side, and managed to
follow their rivals 18-24, but that was the furthest they could go. Sean Rooney
smashed a ball home to score the decisive point for his team.
China faces a strong Italy team on Monday and will need to win
to ensure their 2008 Olympic campaign continues into the quarter-finals.