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Brazil Has Easy Time in Sweep of Kenya

September 16, 2000|Associated Press

Virna Dias led Brazil to an easy sweep of undersized Kenya in the opening round in Sydney.

Brazil, a strong contender for a medal after winning bronze in 1996, won, 25-8, 25-11, 25-13, today.

The 6-foot Dias and 6-3 Brazilian middle blocker Walewska Oliveira had no trouble hitting over the Kenyan front line, whose tallest player was 5-11. Dias had 13 kills.

Kenya, the 29th-ranked team in the world and easily the biggest underdog of the 12-team tournament, struggled with timing and fundamentals. Setter Judith Serenge repeatedly delivered balls too far behind the net for her hitters.

Brazil jumped to a 7-0 lead in the first game before Kenya pulled to 8-4. Brazil recovered, however, and a block by Oliveira and Katia Lopes pushed the lead to 14-6.

Brazil wasn't threatened again and, with the new rally scoring system in which teams can score whether serving or receiving, the match lasted barely an hour.

Croatia 3, Australia 1--Barbara Jelic's powerful performance was just enough for Croatia, which made its Olympic debut by struggling past lightly regarded Australia in the first round.

Jelic, one of the world's most dominant players, slammed 23 kills to lead the Croatians to the 25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 25-16 victory.

The Australians wouldn't even be in the tournament if they weren't playing host to it. But with a lively crowd chanting "Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi oi oi!" at the downtown Sydney Entertainment Center, they made a match of it.

The 6-foot-4 Jelic, whose father Ivica Jelic is the Croatian coach, was virtually unstoppable but her teammates couldn't get her the ball on the outside often enough. After one of her leaping spikes tied the second game at 20-all, the Aussies ran off four straight points.

Christie Mokotupu drove a well-placed ball deep to the Croatians' left side to win the game and tie the match at 1-1.

Croatia led 9-8 in the third game but pulled away for the easy victory. Australia never led in the deciding game, getting within 12-11 before the Croatians surged again.

Australian Elizabeth Brett took the brunt of Jelic's blows in the final game, getting knocked backward onto the floor by one smash.

Tamsin Barnett had nine kills to lead Australia, and Mokotupu had six of her team's 11 blocks.

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