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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Scott Leads U.S. Comeback Victory

Women's volleyball: Former Long Beach State standout helps Americans take control in win over fourth-ranked China.

September 17, 2000|MIKE KUPPER | TIMES ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

SYDNEY, Australia — If well begun really is half done, the U.S. women's volleyball team may wind up having some fun in the Olympic tournament.

The U.S., ranked 10th in the world, took care of the well begun part Saturday night with a four-game triumph over fourth-ranked China, bouncing back smartly from a 25-19 opening loss with confidence-raising 25-21, 25-12 and 26-24 victories at the Sydney Entertainment Center.

One strong showing does not a medal winner make, of course, but top-ranked Cuba is playing in the other pool, and the U.S. doesn't have to play second-ranked Brazil until Sept. 24 in the final game of pool play, so it has a chance to build a head of steam.

Which is precisely what the U.S. did against China. The Chinese practically overran the Americans in the first game, running off six consecutive points midway through it, then cruising.

But the U.S., with Danielle Scott suddenly looming large, and in all the right places, assumed control of the match in the second game, thumped China in the third, then battled back from a 16-13 deficit, after having led 10-5, and won when Logan Tom blocked a kill attempt by Chinese captain Sun Yue.

"You want to win every match, but this one was a little special," said Scott, a former Long Beach State player who plays professionally in Brazil. "We had three good victories over them [in August in China], so it's not that we didn't think we could beat them. But coming into this match, we kind of put those out of our mind. This was a really good start. We were really prepared for China."

Scott, playing with a splint on her broken left ring finger, had 17 kills and six blocks and at one point in the third game ran off four consecutive points.

Not without some discomfort, however.

"For a while there, it seemed like every ball was hitting me in the left hand," she said, but smiling through the pain.

Scott said she'd broken the finger in a recent scrimmage against Germany, and Coach Mick Haley suggested that the injury was of little consequence.

"Everybody has some nagging injury," he said. "We decided not to complain about them because what are you going to do? You've got to suck it up and play.

"And we didn't come here just to play, we came to win a medal.

"As Danielle said, we prepared ourselves almost perfectly to be ready for this match. And we'll take the next match just like we took this one and be prepared for it. We're very excited to win this first match but we still have four more in this pool."

He figures, though, that the task is not beyond his team.

"The way we train, our people continue to get better," he said.

"I don't even think this team knows how good they are. That's kind of the exciting part because I think we can get a lot better. We're not stagnant and we're not in a rut . . . and I think we have a style that's pretty significant. We steal the best from everybody and we're still a little special, and that's good."

Hu Jin, the Chinese coach, was among those impressed.

"It was a learning experience," he said of the defeat.

The U.S. women will be more than happy to teach some more lessons.

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