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Fun Is Over for U.S., and Cuba's Ahead

July 29, 1996|Times Wire Services

The real Olympic women's volleyball tournament starts Tuesday, and it will have a familiar look.

The elimination round is over, and the Unites States got 31 kills from team captain Tara Cross-Battle and exceptional bench play in a 10-15, 15-13, 15-9, 15-3 win over South Korea to finish second-seeded in Pool A.

Ahead: the third-seeded team in Pool B, Cuba.

It will look familiar. The U.S. won the bronze medal in 1992 in Barcelona, losing in the semifinals to the eventual gold medalists from Cuba.

Cuba was upset by Russia, 10-15, 15-6, 15-7, 15-8, on Sunday.

The United States already has turned back challenges from two quick, aggressive Asian teams. The only Asian team it couldn't handle was Pool A winner China (5-0), which beat the Americans, 3-1, Wednesday.

"We're definitely ready for the quarterfinals," said Cross-Battle, who had a match-high 31 kills. "The Asian teams, they like to run around and make us tired, but I think we put it back on them, especially in that fourth game. We picked up our pace a little bit because we knew they were slowing down."

The U.S. was also able to pick up the pace because its reserves played well, especially Danielle Scott, Paula Weishoff and Lori Endicott.

Endicott is usually the starting setter, but Yoko Zetterlund started because she played well in reserve in Friday's victory over Japan. Zetterlund also is familiar with the Asian style, having grown up in Japan.

Endicott came on with the U.S. team struggling early in the third game. She promptly ran off eight consecutive service points, including an ace, and the Americans took the lead for good at 12-8.

In the other game at Athens, the Netherlands routed winless Ukraine, 15-3, 15-5, 15-5, and will be seeded No. 3 in Pool A. South Korea will be No. 4

In Atlanta, Japan suffered a double dose of misery, losing to archrival China and being knocked out of the Olympic tournament.

China won, 16-14, 15-11, 15-10, in straight sets to finish atop Group A.

Japan was the champion in 1964 and 1976 and bronze medalist in 1984.

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