BEIJING – The U.S. men's volleyball team opened Olympic play Sunday with a 3-2 victory, a day after the coach's father-in-law was fatally stabbed at a popular Beijing tourist site.
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The U.S. team defeated Venezuela 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.
Coach Hugh McCutcheon's father-in-law, Todd Bachman, was fatally stabbed Saturday at the 13th-century Drum Tower. McCutcheon's mother-in-law, Barbara Bachman, is in serious condition at a hospital.
McCutcheon's wife is former Olympian Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon, who played for the U.S. women's team at the Athens Games.
"We really felt the loss as one of our own," said U.S. 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 powerhouse Brazil and Russia. Last month, the team claimed the FIVB World League title, a first for the men, with a victory over Serbia in Rio de Janeiro.
They had little trouble Sunday until the third and fourth sets, when the Venezuelan men were boosted by entire sections of yellow-shirted fans chanting "Ven-e-zue-la!"
Venezuela was making its first-ever Olympic appearance.