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United States Rallies To Beat The Netherlands

July 23, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ The U.S. women’s volleyball team got a big scare from the Netherlands Monday night, needing Tara Cross-Battle’s powerful spikes to pull out a four-set victory in their second Olympic match.

Tammy Liley and Elaina Oden also had strong hitting performances to keep Team USA from blowing their homecourt advantage against the second-to-last team to qualify for the games. The Americans won 12-15, 15-10, 17-15, 15-7.

The fourth set, which ended with three-time Olympian Paula Weishoff scoring the last three points, was the only one in which Team USA didn’t trail. Cross-Battle scored two straight points as the United States took a 3-0 lead, and Liley later contributed three straight.

The win kept the United States, the defending bronze medalist, even with China at 2-0 and the only undefeated teams in Pool A. They’ll meet Wednesday night.

The match swung in the third-set when Team USA blew a 13-6 lead and had to fight off five set points. Cross-Battle killed off two Dutch chances, and made a diving dig that helped lead to a 15-15 tie. Liley served an ace for 16-15, and the United States won the game when a Dutch player tried to hit the ball at Cross-Battle, but instead hit it out of bounds.

At one point, Cross-Battle hit a ball so hard that it bowled over Holland’s Riette Fledderus. Cross-Battle was named the international player of the year in 1995, and was MVP of Team USA’s last two tournament wins, including the World Grand Prix last year.

The Dutch jumped to a 6-0 lead in the second game. Cross-Battle and Oden led the comeback with their stuff blocks and kills.

China improved to 2-0 with a tense five-set victory over South Korea. China won 17-16, 16-14, 2-15, 13-15, 15-13. It was the first time this Olympics that a match required the fifth-set tiebreaker, in which points are scored on every serve.

The match lasted nearly three hours, and the crowd at the Omni gave both teams a standing ovation when it ended.

Japan (1-1) raced past Ukraine (0-2) 15-9, 15-5, 15-4. At Athens, Ga., Russia overwhelmed Canada 15-1, 15-7, 15-9.

Team USA plays China Wednesday night. China swept a four-match series with Team USA in Southern California in May, but the Americans beat China in straight sets on June 16 to take third place in the BCV Volley Cup in Switzerland.

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