TOKYO (AFP) –
South Korea have one foot in the London Olympics after they whipped Thailand in three sets in the women’s volleyball qualifying tournament Saturday, while Japan remain in contention despite losing heavily.
The South Korean women only need to defeat Peru on Sunday to ensure their place at the Games after their 25-18, 25-22, 25-20 victory.
“We are going to keep our concentration for tomorrow’s match against Peru. Hopefully we can win. I also hope that the three Asian teams — Korea, Japan and Thailand — will qualify for the Olympics,” said coach Kim Hyung-Sil.
The top three sides in the eight-team round robin and the best-placed Asian side among the rest will qualify for the Olympics.
Already there are Russia, the two-time world champions, who outgunned Japan in straight sets to secure top place in the standings with one day to go in the tournament in Tokyo.
They have 18 points from six wins out of six, ahead of South Korea and Serbia, who each have 12 points. Japan have 11 points in fourth place, followed by Thailand in fifth on nine points.
If it stays like that, Thailand will miss out at the expense of Japan. Japan and Serbia go head-to-head in the other big game.
Thai coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai knows his side will need to beat Cuba to stand any chance of keeping their Olympic hopes alive.
The Russian women never gave the Japanese a sniff on their way to a powerful 25-22, 25-20, 25-20 victory for their sixth straight win.
“I’m satisfied with the result. I’m especially satisfied that my players played strong mentally. We had some problems in receiving, but we solved it during the match to get the victory,” said Russian coach Sergey Ovchinnikov.
He praised Ekaterina Gamova, who scored the team’s best of 25 points, saying: “She’s been playing very good during the tournament. I’m very satisfied with her performance.”
Italy, the United States and China have already qualified after taking medals at the World Cup last year with continental champions Algeria, the Dominican Republic, Turkey, Brazil, as well as hosts Britain, joining them.