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China, Russia Win Volleyball Openers

July 20, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ Rebuilding after two big disappointments earlier this decade, China opened women’s Olympic volleyball with a 15-10, 15-5, 15-7 victory over the Netherlands today.

Russia also won in straight sets, beating Germany 15-5, 15-10, 15-7 to avenge a loss in the European Zone qualification tournament. The Russians later qualified in Africa.

China, led by Sun Yue with 17 kills, took leads of 6-2 in the first set and 10-4 in the second. The Netherlands took its first lead of the match at 5-4 in the third set. But China pulled away, winning the final two points on Cui Yongmei’s serve.

The Chinese used key blocks to neutralize Holland’s power hitter, Henriette Weersing, who had a match-high 21 kills in 55 attempts.

Wang Yi had 15 kills and captain Lai Yawen had four blocks for points.

Bronze medalists in Seoul in 1988, the Chinese finished seventh out of eight teams in Barcelona, then were eighth in the 1994 World Cup. Lang Ping, star of the Chinese team that won the women’s gold medal in Los Angeles in 1984, was called in and her regrouped team finished third at the 1995 World Cup to qualify for Atlanta.

Russia is playing under that team name for the first time in the Olympics. Evguenia Artamonova had an impressive match, with 18 kills, four stuff blocks and two service aces. She served on match point and put down the final spike.

Irina Ilchenko had a match-high 23 kills, plus four stuff blocks.

The Unified Team won the silver medal in 1992.

Germany, playing under one flag for the first time in Olympic volleyball competition, was led by Nancy Celis’ 16 kills.

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