TOKYO (AFP) –
Australia clinched the ticket to the London Olympics when they outgunned China to take the top place among Asian teams at the men’s volleyball qualifying tournament on Sunday.
With a 25-12, 25-20, 25-13 victory, Australia ended the tournament with a 5-2 win-loss record for 15 points, making them unreachable for Iran and Japan who will play later in the day.
“Today was a do-or-die game again, the final show and it was up to us to perform. We were the actors and it’s an amazing feeling to come to the last day and dominate a team like that,” said Australian captain Igor Yudin.
“It’s an unbelievable experience and all of us are really happy to be part of that. For these games, you have to be a lion or a dog and we did that perfectly.
“I can’t remember having the same focus and aggression since I joined the team. It’s great that we made this step on such a huge stage and at such a huge moment,” added Yudin.
Australia’s Argentine coach Jon Uriarte praised his players, who started working together for matches in Italy, Bulgaria, Poland and the Netherlands only 50 days after the professional season.
“During the tournament, they were the protagonists. I want to congratulate them. Today we wanted to disrupt China’s offence and each had specific targets to try and create problems for their offence,” said Uriarte.
“They did a good job today, but it hasn’t been like that every day. Our block is quite good but not efficient enough, especially if we want to make the next step and challenge the top teams in the world,” he added.
Serbia, who whipped Venezuela 25-14, 25-13, 25-23 for a seventh straight win earlier in the day, qualified on Saturday as winners of the tournament, which was also run as the Asian qualifying tournament.
In the Olympics Serbia and Australia will join the three medallists from last year’s World Cup — Russia, Poland and Brazil — and continental winners Italy, Tunisia, the United States and Argentina, as well as hosts Britain.
Two more teams will join them after tournaments in Germany and Bulgaria, which are currently underway.