The United States is poised to make a run at its first gold medal in women's volleyball, and China might be the biggest challenge. Tough way to start the tournament.

Paced by the power of Hao Yang, China beat the U.S. team yesterday, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 25-18.

"One way or another, we've got to beat them some time," said U.S. star hitter Logan Tom, who had a team-high 14 points.

China is the team chosen by many to win gold. The United States has a promising mix of young and veteran players hoping to use momentum from a fourth-place finish in Sydney in 2000.

The United States beat China in three sets last month at the World Grand Prix tournament, but the difference in this one was defense.

"We know that the American team [has] very strong blockers," captain Kun Feng said through an interpreter. "We are quite prepared for that."

In the second set, the United States took four of the last five points to pull even. But the Chinese toughed out an intense third set.

China's best middle blocker, 6-foot-5 Zhao Ruirui, aggravated an injury to her right leg. She was taken to a local hospital for X-rays, which showed a stress fracture.

-- From News Services

Ogonna Nnamani, left, and United States lose opener to China in 4 sets.