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Japan men earn Olympic ticket after golden set triumph against Australia

Japanese duo Kentaro Asahi and Katsuhiro Shiratori carried their team to an Olympic berth
Fuzhou, China, June 24, 2012 – Japan ousted top seeds Australia in the golden set to claim qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games at the AVC Men’s Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Final at Min River Park in Fuzhou, China on Sunday.

Cristopher McHugh and Joshua Slack placed Australia on the winning column during their first match against Shinpei Aoki and Yujiro Hidaka 2-0 (21-12, 21-17). The formidable Australian duo bested the tandem of Aoki/Hidaka with their excellent attack tactic and good defence.

Japan then recovered from their first match setback courtesy of Kentaro Asahi and Katsuhiro Shiratori. Asahi/Shiratori played more dynamically than Aoki/Hidaka by defeating Sam Boehm and Isaac Kapa 2-1 (21-17, 20-22, 15-13), and trouncing the stronger tandem of McHugh/Slack in straight sets (21-13, 21-19).

Japan clearly had the momentum in their fourth match against Boehm/Kapa and took the first set 21-19. Australia denied the Japanese surge and seized the second set 21-16. The thrilling third set was a defining moment for both teams – Japan insistent to end the competition while Australia hanging on to extend for another set.

Japan played with power that gave them the upper hand in the third set but it backfired towards the end as Kapa placed a strong wall at the net that forced Japan to play a golden set.

Asahi/Shiratori played an excellent serving game in the golden set allowing them to take the advantage against McHugh/Slack. The Australians were not able to recover from this hurdle and eventually yielded at 15-10.

China settled for a third place finish with a 3-0 win over Indonesia. Indonesia suddenly lost steam on the final day, perhaps from the gruelling encounter with Australia in the semifinals.

Chen Cheng and Lin Wuqin had a little difficulty in their first match against Andy Ardiyansyah and Ade Rachmawan but still managed to win 21-15, 23-25, 15-11. The other Chinese pair Zhou Shun and Li Jian were more consistent and avoided any aggression on offense from Indonesia.

Zhou/Li showed composure in overcoming the Andy/Chandra tandem in straight sets (21-13, 21-19), and Dian Putra Santosa and Fahriansyah Fahriansyah (21-17, 21-19).


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