VOLLEYBALL MEN FALL TO JAPAN IN STRAIGHT SETS AS LONDON HANGS IN THE BALANCE
June 7, 2012
The Menís Volleyball race for London 2012 will go right down to the wire after Japan notched a three sets to love victory over Australia on the fifth day of action in the FIVB World Olympic Qualifying Tournament at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium tonight.
The straight sets loss followed Australiaís 3-0 loss to top seeded Serbia after their opening round wins over Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Iran.
After two point-for-point opening sets, Japan, who won the corresponding tournament three years ago, ran out winners 25-22, 25-23 and 25-12.
The Australians must win against Korea on Saturday and China on Sunday to have any chance of qualifying for their third Olympic tournament.
With world ranked number seven team Serbia almost certainly assured of one spot, the Asian qualifier looks to be between Iran, Australia and Japan.
Australian coach John Uriarte said: "Our reception attack and transition attack were not working properly tonight. Our serves gave us opportunities but we could not take advantage of them."
"The attack has to be better to win at this level."
Tatsuya Fukuzawa and Kota Yamamura powered a relentless Japan attack with 15 points each while Australian captain Igor Yudin led Australia with 14 points and Thomas Edgar 12.
Japan seized the momentum in the first set and retained it throughout the match. They were proficient on both offense and defense in the impressive triumph. Japan served especially well on the way to the win.
Australia had trouble with Japan's quick attack and service reception. They made several unforced errors during the match and seemed rattled by the raucous sellout crowd.
Australia moved out to a 5-3 lead in the first set and shot-for-shot points saw a closely fought affair with Adam White's spike leveling it up at 19-all.
Japan then crept ahead 20-19 before a Yudin's spike pulled Australia within a point at 22-21 before Japan grabbed an advantage and a set point at 24-22. Yamamura's block gave Japan the set 25-22. Fukuzawa had eight points in the set.
A spike by Edgar made it 5-4 for Australia in the second set and then 7-5 in their favor. White's spike sent Australia into the first TTO with an 8-6 edge. Yudin's block took it to 11-8 for Australia.
Later in the set an error by Australia handed Japan a 20-18 lead. Yudin's spike drew Australia within one at 21-20. Yamamura's spike made it 23-21.
Then a Shimizu smash gave Japan set point at 24-21 and Australia called a timeout. Ishijima's spike saw Japan take the set 25-23.
Shimizu pounded a spike as Japan established a 5-2 lead in the third set and it set the stage for Japanís stirring finish and an Australian service fault saw Japan lead 10-6.
Fukuzawa's serve just made it over the net for an ace and it was 14-6 with Japan in total control.
Another block put Japan up by 10 at 16-6 at the second TTO.
Ishijima ripped another spike and Japan led 20-9. Edgar sent a spike long and Japan was two points from the match at 23-10. Yamamura blocked one more and it was match point for Japan at 24-10.
Japan took the set and wrapped up the match 25-12 on a foot fault by Yudin, ending a disappointing night for the young Aussies who now have a day off before they meet Korea on Saturday and China on Sunday.