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Saturday, September 23
Volleyball Fan Guide

IN THE CROSSHAIRS puts Olympic volleyball In the Crosshairs with our interactive fan guide feature. Check out each sport's fan guide for more In the Crosshairs looks at the Olympic sports.

Volleyball in the Crosshairs


Olympic competition dates: Sept. 16-Oct. 1
Venues: Sydney Entertainment Centre; Buring Pavilion, Sydney Olympic Park

The outlook
Two-time defending Olympics champion Cuba is again the team to beat in the women's field. Cuba, along with Italy and the Netherlands, should contend for men's gold.

The finer points
Format: Indoor volleyball is experiencing many changes in 2000. A new position has been created called libero. This substitute will wear a different-color uniform and may only play in the backcourt. A libero will not serve, block or spike. Libero substitutions are unlimited and do not count toward the six allowed each team per set. Both men's and women's tournaments are 12-teams with pool play. Top four teams in each pool advance to single-elimination medal rounds.

Scoring: A new system is in place allowing the team that wins the rally to score regardless of which team served. The first four sets will be played to 25 points, instead of 12, with a two-point margin required to win. The final set still will be played to 15 points, provided there is a minimum lead of two points.


Olympic competition dates: Sept. 16-26
Venue: Bondi Beach

The outlook
Brazil has provided the early standard in the men's and women's divisions. The United States and Australia are also top women's contenders, while Argentina and Switzerland join Brazil atop the men's field. Only one of the four gold medalists from Atlanta, Brazil's Sandra Pires, will compete in Sydney. Karch Kiraly, the only volleyball player to win three Olympic gold medals _ two indoors for the United States in 1984 and 1988, along with the first men's beach gold medal _ was poised with new partner Adam Johnson to qualify. But Kiraly, 39, injured his right shoulder at the final qualifying event in Belgium and could miss the games.

The finer points
Format: Beach volleyball, in its second Olympic appearance, is played on a court the same size as that of the indoor game, but the court is made of sand, and there are two players to a side (not the six in indoor). While indoor players can specialize, beach players must do it all: serve, set, dig, block and kill.

Scoring: Matches are best-of-three, games to 15 points with only 17 points able to be scored. In medal games, it's best-of-three to 12 points and the team must win by at least two points. Only serving team can score.

Olympic debut: In 2000, bikinis are the required outfit for women.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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