| LONDON, July 30
LONDON, July 30 The notion that all volleyball
players need to tower over the net like beanpoles was put to
rest at the Olympics on Monday when China's little libero Zhang
Xian stole the show.
Standing just 1.67 metres tall among a team of giants, Zhang
resembled a mouse surrounded by long grass but her scurrying
runs around the court made all the difference.
Medal hopefuls China's 3-1 victory over Turkey in the Pool B
match at London's cavernous Earl's Court Arena owed much to
Zhang's constant energy and willingness to dive, dig and drive
her team on.
"We don't have superstars in our side. I'm just part of the
team," she told Reuters without a bead of sweat anywhere on her
tiny frame despite the two-hour match.
"I'm trying to use my character to influence the team."
Zhang stands out in more ways than one because, at 27, she
is one of the oldest members of China's team.
"Our libero performed very well today," China coach Juemin
Yu told a news conference.
"With her experience and passing and blocking, she did
Zhang is also easily identifiable because she wears a
different coloured jersey to her team mates given volleyball's
rules on liberos - traditionally smaller players who specialise
in defence and are not allowed certain hits in certain areas of
The libero is one of the many quirks of volleyball.
Helpers run on to sweep and clean the court at almost every
stoppage and substitutes coming on hold up their own little sign
to show which numbered player should come off.
(Editing by Mark Meadows)