BEIJING // The US men's volleyball team opened play today with a 3-2 victory over Venezuela, a day after the coach's father-in-law was fatally stabbed at a popular Beijing tourist site. The USA beat the Venezuelans 25-18, 25-18, 22-25, 21-25, 15-10. American Riley Salmon jumped into the arms of a teammate, and the players acknowledged a standing ovation from many in the stands with waves. The US coach Hugh McCutcheon's father-in-law, Todd Bachman, was fatally stabbed yesterday at the 13th-century Drum Tower. McCutcheon's mother-in-law, Barbara Bachman, is in serious condition at a hospital. Mr McCutcheon's wife is the former Olympian Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon, who played for the US women's team at the Athens Games. "We really felt the loss as one of our own," said the US captain Tom Hoff. "Maybe that's why it hurts so much. It hit so close." The men briefly linked arms and bowed their heads before the games. Afterward, they left the court quickly without talking to reporters. The American men are ranked third in the world behind powerhouses Brazil and Russia.
Defending champions Brazil defeated Egypt 3-0 in their opening match. Brazil, which has won five of the last six World League titles, beat Egypt 25-19, 25-15, 25-18. The gold medal favorites had won every major international competition since 2003 until this year, when the American men captured their first World League title. *AP