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Venezuela lose Olympic debut proudly to U. S. in men's volleyball
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16:58, August 10, 2008

As the way they stepped into the Capital Indoor Stadium, the Venezuelan men's volleyballers hled their head high when leaving, despite a 2-3 loss to the strong United States on Sunday.

The Olympics newcomer was fearless in face of the new World League champion U.S. and they started strongly to lead 2-1 at the opener. The Americans seem less prepared for Venezuela's fierce offense, but the world No. 3 team showed their quality with solid blocks and fatal hits from wing spiker Clayton Stanley and the two sides traded leads to tie it at 6-all.

Another American ace spiker William Priddy broke the tie, but soon his two spike faults helped the rivals pull back 9-9. However, Venezuela failed to grab the chance and the U.S. led all the way from 19-14 to 23-17. Priddy helped the team take the set 25-18 with an unanswered spike and an ace serve.

In the second set, Venezuela still could not find ways to deal with the U.S. high spikes and their attempts of bouncing back were in vain as they lost 18-25.

The South Americans rallied back in the following two sets when the veteran U.S. setter Lioy Ball had to rest at courtside after having his left leg injured.

The Venezuelan spikers Lius Diaz and Juan Carlos Blanco led the team to impress more than 11,000 spectators with quick spikes and stubborn defense, helping the team to win 25-22 and 25-21.

In the breathtaking tiebreaker, the U.S. regained their rhythm after Ball's return to court though Venezuela took an early lead 4-2. They staged a stunning 4-0 run with the lethal spikes of Clayton Stanley to take over lead 6-4. Venezuela pulled back two points, but the U.S. immediately led 8-6 to exchange the court side.

The Americans never looked back and held four match points. With a beeline spike of Stanley, the Americans ended the energy-consuming tussle 15-10.

Earlier in the day, mighty Russia upset the World League runner-up Serbia 3-1 and Athens Silver medalist Italy beat Japan 3-1.

Twelve men's teams are divided into two groups to compete in the preliminary round of the Olympic tournament in Beijing that runs through August 10-18. The knockout stages is slated for Aug. 20 to 24.

Italy, Japan, U.S., Venezuela, China and Bulgaria are in Group A and defending champion Brazil, Russia, Serbia, Egypt, Poland and German are in Group B.

Source:Xinhua

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