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Serbia top Japan in five sets as both teams secure Olympic berths

 
Tijana Malesevic contributed 14 points to the victory of Serbia in a thrilling final match against Japan at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Sunday

Tokyo, Japan, May 27, 2012 - Serbia outlasted Japan in five sets (18-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 15-9 on the final day of action in the FIVB Women's World Olympic Qualifying Tournament at Tokyo Metropolitan Gym on Sunday. The results assured both teams of berth in the London Olympic Games.

Japan, bronze medalists at the 2012 world championships, came into the contest needing to win two sets to secure a trip to London while European champions Serbia had to win to book the ticket to the Olympics. A loss would mean that Thailand would go instead.

Jovana Brakocevic scored 18 points in the triumph, while Milena Rasic added 16. Tijana Malesevic and Jovana Vesovic contributed 14 points apiece

Erika Araki scored a match-high 21 points in the loss. Yukiko Ebata contributed 15 points and Risa Shinnabe and Saori Kimura had 12 and 11 respectively.

Serbia ended the tournament with a 5-2 record, while Japan went 4-3., the same record as Thailand but had a better set-ratio (1.364 to 1.200).

Araki's block gave Japan a 5-3 lead in the first set. Araki's spike made it 7-4 for Japan. Another Araki spike gave Japan an 8-5 edge at the first TTO. Ebata's service ace made it 9-5. Kimura's dink took it to 10-6. A service ace by Milena Rasic made the count 10-8. Tijana Malesevic's spike leveled the score at 10-10. Japan retook the lead 12-11 on a Kimura block. Araki crushed a spike that hit libero Suzana Cebic directly in the face to put Japan up 15-13. Araki spike again at Japan led 16-14 at the second TTO. Brakocevic knocked a spike into the net to make it 18-15 for Japan and Serbia took a timeout. Ebata hammered a spike down the middle and it was 20-15. Serbia again called a timeout. Kimura's spike made it 22-16 as Japan moved in on the set. Ebata's spike gave Japan set point at 24-18 and Araki drilled a spike right down the middle to give Japan the set 25-18.

Malesevic sailed a serve long to give Japan a 5-4 lead in the second set. Serbia moved in front 6-5 on a spike by Rasic. Brakocevic pounded a crosscourt spike and Serbia was on tp 8-6 at the first TTO. A block by Rasic made it 10-7 for Serbia. Serbia made it 11-7 with another black and Japan called a timeout. Kimura's service ace pulled Japan within two at 14-12. Ebata's spike sailed wide and it was 15-12 for Serbia. Brakocevic drilled a spike and Serbia went into the second TTO  ahead 16-12. Brakocevic's spike made it 18-13 and Japan called a timeout. Risa Shinnabe sent a serve into the net and it was 20-14 for Serbia. Kimura's block moved Japan within three at 21-18. Brakocevic spiked to make it 22-19. Serbia earned set point at 24-21 and claimed the set on a spike by Stefana Veljkovic.

A reception error by Malesevic gave Japan a 5-3 lead in the third set. Araki's block made it 8-5 for Japan at the first TTO. Ebata's service ace made it 10-5 and Serbia called a timeout. Ebata then delivered another ace for 11-5. Araki pounded another spike for 12-6. Malesevic missed a spike and Japan's lead had ballooned to eight at 14-6. A return by Hirai made it 15-6 and Ebata followed with a spike as Japan roared into the second TTO with a 10-point lead at 16-6. A spike by Malesevic finally ended Japan's run and it was 16-7. Shinnabe's spike made the lead 10 again at 18-8. Ebata's spike made it 20-10 and Japan was five points from an Olympic berth. Brakocevic served into the net and it was 22-12. Serbia scored three straight points and Japan called a timeout up 22-15. Kimura blasted a spike for 23-15 and Japan had the trip to London within their grasp. Kimura connected again and it was set point 24-16. Brakocevic's block made it 24-19 and Japan took a timeout. Shinnabe's crosscourt spike locked up the set 25-19 and the Olympic berth for Japan.

Araki's block put Japan up 6-4 in the fourth set. A spike by Brakocevic saw Serbia go in front 7-6. Shinnabe's service ace made it 8-7 Japan at the first TTO. Araki's spike tied it 10-10 and Kimura followed with a spike. With Japan up 14-12, Serbia took a timeout. Brakocevic fired a spike wide and Japan moved ahead 15-12. Shinnabe spiked again and Japan led 16-13 at the second TTO. Sanja Starovic served into the net and Japan was up 19-16. A service ace by Malesevic drew Serbia within a point at 19-18 and a second tied it 19-19. Serbia went up 20-19 on a block by Rasic. Araki served into the net and Serbia was on top by two at 22-20. Takeshita sailed a serve long and it was 23-21. Starovic gave Serbia set point with a spike and Serbia took the set 25-21 on a service ace.

A block by Rasic gave Serbia a 5-3 lead in the fifth set. Shinnabe sailed a serve long and Serbia went up 7-4. Serbia had an 8-5 lead at the TTO. Takeshita sent a serve long and Serbia was ahead 11-8. A block by Veljkovic made it 12-8 and Serbia was three points from London. Serbia moved to match point at 14-8 and Brakocevic ended it 15-9 with a spike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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