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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | VOLLEYBALL

U.S. Women Ease on Down the Road

Volleyball: Kenya is no problem in a 25-16, 25-6, 25-16 victory that maintains the momentum of opening-match upset.

September 18, 2000|MIKE KUPPER | TIMES ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

SYDNEY, Australia — Teams do get opportunities to practice during the Olympics but that doesn't usually happen during the actual competition.

It did here Monday for the U.S. women's volleyball team and the Americans made the most of it, stopping an overmatched Kenya team in straight sets, 25-16, 25-6 and 25-16.

The easy afternoon left the Americans unbeaten in two matches and the Kenyans wondering what is so wonderful about the Olympics. Making their Games debut, the Kenyans have taken two pastings in two matches. Brazil also beat them in straight sets in the opening round.

Next up for the American women is Croatia on Wednesday, then a match with host Australia before the pool-play windup with Brazil on Sunday. If the Americans can get past Croatia and Australia, they figure to make the quarterfinals, even if they lose to Brazil. And the way the U.S. women have been playing, that is hardly a given. As they showed in their opening-match upset of China, the Americans not only can play with the best of them, they can beat them.

"I think we have a really great shot at [winning a medal]," said Tara Cross-Battle, who was given the afternoon off so Demetria Sance could get some playing time. "We're getting better every day."

Sance, given her chance, made the most of it. The outside hitter from San Antonio and the University of Texas cashed in 16 of 25 shots in leading the rout.

As lopsided as it was, Coach Mick Haley was more than happy to take it.

"I thought Demetria played really well," he said. "We wanted to give Tara a rest and get Demetria in there and we wanted Allison [Weston] to get some swings, and that was good. We also wanted to work on our serve, and that was good too. We're going to have to pass better, though."

Weston who matched star Danielle Scott's output of six winners, but said the match was not just a walk in the park.

"They're never as easy as they look," she said. "This was an obvious must-win situation for us, and a must-win in three. If it comes down to a tie in wins and losses, losing a game today could hurt us. We need to win as many games as we can and lose as few as possible in case of a tie. There was some real pressure on us today."

All self-induced, of course, because there was almost none from the opponent. Kenya was down, 8-6, when the Americans took off, scoring often on well set shots at the net.

Logan Tom hit a winner into the corner, then spiked another and served an ace after a block by Sarah Noriega and suddenly the U.S. had a 14-8 advantage. That was expanded to 23-10 but Kenya refused to fold, running off six consecutive points before the Americans regained the upper hand.

The Americans led the second game, 3-2, when Heather Brown of Yorba Linda assumed the serve and turned the set into a rout. She served a couple of aces and before her turn was over the U.S. had run up an 8-2 lead. The U.S continued domination at the net, confusing the Kenyans by dropping dinks over the net when spikes were anticipated, then coming back with the hard shots.

The U.S. kept it up in the third set, romping off to an 8-1 advantage, giving Haley a chance to use some more of his reserves.

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