Tokyo, Japan, May 18, 2008 –Host Japan, Korea and Serbia remained unbeaten and posted their second victories. Poland overpowered Kazakhstan to clinch their first win after being beaten by Japan in the first match while Kazakhstan and Thailand suffered their second consecutive defeats, making their bid to take a ticket for the Beijing Olympic Games more difficult.
The second day started with Serbia meeting Dominican Republic. Both teams took their first match yesterday and they had to work hard to rally from the first set down to beat the Dominican Republic in a rematch from the 2007 World Cup where the Serbs downed the same opponents in straight sets. However, the Dominicans could take much satisfaction from their fighting display against the World Championship bronze medal winners, and they even missed one set point in the second set that would have given them a 2-0 lead.
Serbia played steady Volleyball to breeze past an error plagued team from NORCECA 3-1 (23-25, 27-25, 25-21, 25-20). The Dominican players made a total of 42 errors compared with only 17 from their opponents. This win improved Serbia’s win-loss record to 2-0, dropping Dominican Republic to 1-1 after their win over Thailand the previous day.
Serbia's Head Coach Zoran Terzic said: “The most important reason for our win is the Dominican players made so many mistakes, not because we played well.”
The first battle between Asians ended with Korea triumphing over their regional rival Thailand in a hard-fought, 130-minute encounter 25-20, 28-26, 14-25, 21-25, 18-16 in the second match of the day. The Koreans also avenged their straight-sets defeat to Thailand at last year's Asian Women’s Championship. The Koreans had more power and height than the Thai national team, which has been trying in recent years to add power and height to follow the worldwide trend in women’s Volleyball.
Thailand Head Coach Srisamutnak Nataphon said: “I want to thank my team for doing everything I could expect. We had a number of chances to win but our team stopped playing their best.”
Poland put Saturday’s defeat to Japan behind them, clinching their first win. Poland Head Coach Marco Bonitta said: "Yesterday we had a difficult match against Japan and lost it. I am very happy to win today."
“Today we did not make a lot of mistakes like yesterday," said Bonitta. "This is the right way to play.”
In the final encounter between Japan and Puerto Rico, the host team continued their winning momentum with the partisan support from the 10,000 boisterous fans. The hosts had a great win yesterday over hot favorite Poland, but today they were given a real fight by the lower-ranked Puerto Rico and had to show all their energy to thrash the 19th ranked opponents, who lost to Korea the previous day. Japan won the first two sets but lost the third and in the fourth set Japan took it on their second match point 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 17-25, 26-24), improving their win-loss record to 2-0.
Japan’s Head Coach Shoichi Yanagimoto said: “It was good to win the match but we still have things to improve for the coming matches. I think it would be very hard to go to the Olympics.”
Puerto Rico Head Coach Juan Carlos Nunez said: “Japan team is very good, especially the middle blockers who gave us pressure."
The Women’s World Olympic Qualification Tournaments has eight teams competing: host Japan, Korea, Thailand and Kazakhstan (best ranked teams at Asian Continental Championship), Serbia and Poland (best world ranked from CEV), Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico (best ranked teams from NORCECA).
The round-robin tournament from May 17-25 also doubles as the Asian Women’s World Olympic Qualification Tournament and so the best three teams plus the best Asian team (even if any of the best three teams as Asians) will book their tickets to Beijing.
The teams will have a rest day on May 19 and competition resumes on Thursday, May 20.
Results on second day:
Dominican Republic vs. Serbia 1-3 (25-23, 25-27, 21-25, 20-25)
Korea vs. Thailand 3-2 (25-20, 28-26, 14-25, 21-25, 18-16)
Kazakhstan vs. Poland 0-3 (20-25, 16-25, 19-25)
Puerto Rico vs. Japan 1-3 (20-25, 18-25, 25-17, 24-26)
Standings (two points for victory, one for loss)
Japan, Serbia, Korea 4 points, Poland, Dominican Republic 3 points, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Puerto Rico 2 points.
May 20 schedule:
Thailand vs. Puerto Rico
Serbia vs. Korea
Poland vs. Dominican Republic
Japan vs. Kazakhstan
photo Getty Images