Japan beats China into women's volleyball semifinals
Updated: 2012-08-08 14:03:56
LONDON - Japan outgunned Asian archrival China 3-2 in the semifinals of the women's volleyball event at the London Olympics here on Tuesday.
China, champion in 2004 Athens Games and bronze medal winner in Beijing Games, lost the match 28-26, 23-25, 25-23, 23-25 and 18-16 at the Earls Court, central London. Japanese wing spiker Yuiko Ebata scored a game high 33 points as the team showcased their renown solid defense, while Chinese Hui Ruoqi contributed 26 points to Chia.
Japan's players celebrate defeating China during their women's quarterfinal volleyball match at Earls Court during the London 2012 Olympic Games, Aug 7, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
It's the first time for the Japanese to make into the top four in 24 years. Last time, they entered the semifinals in 1988 Seoul Games, but they lost to China in bronze medal match.
The Japanese will face defending champion Brazil in the semifinals, which beat Russia in a five-set thriller later.
Head coach Masayoshi Manabe,always with a stern look on his face, couldn't hide his happiness win the hard win.
"It's a tough game. China is very strong and their performances are very competitive, they have presented good blocking and spike," said Manabe.
On the reason to offset China's power, the coach said "we are not in advantage when height is concerned, so we have tried very hard to do reception well and save every possible ball," he said.
Japanese top score Kimura showed strong ambitions for a medal.
"I have been playing and practising for three and a half years to win the medal, so to be on that stage is wonderful," said Kimura.
"Whichever team we meet, I will try my best," she said.
"We lost the match because of errors at the key points. We had a lot of pressure. We really wanted to win. But the match today might still be one of the legends at Olympics,"said China's head coach Yu Juemin.
China's Ma Yunwen (L) and Hui Ruoqi react after losing their women's quarterfinal volleyball match against Japan at Earls Court during the London 2012 Olympic Games, Aug 7, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
"My girls tried so hard, but the Japanese controlled the rhythm of the match. It seemed we were confined by their fast counter-attack, no matter we were in the lead or not," he said.
Yu gave high praise to key player Wang Yimei, who have been suffering from her ankle injury for three months, and is highly possible not able to play for the next Olympics. She scored the second team high 22 points.
"It's the last Olympics for many of my players, like Wang. She actually played quite stable throughout the tournament. She showed great fighting spirit through our ups and downs. I'm proud of her," he said.
After the match, China's captain Wei Qiuyue was soaked in sadness at the court side, shading tears over the shoulder of her teammate Ma Yunwen, who was trying to console her, but is barely able to say a word.
"For Many of us, this is the last Olympics, The road to get here was not easy at all, and we had a lot of hope today," said Wei.
"We performed our best, but we still have lessons to take from the match," she said.
The two sides started strongly to tie 13-all as China raced ahead 19-15 with a 6-2 run. But, Japan, led by Kimura and, pulled level at 21-21 and then 25-25. China saved a set points before losing the set 26-28.
China revived to lead 4-1 in the second set before Japan pulled back to level 6-6 and tie 14-all. Middle blocker Xu Yunli joined Wang Yimei to take a narrow lead 22-18.
After Japan fought back 22-23 with a 4-1 run, the Chinese women left no chance to their rivals, with a Wang's back-front kill and a spike from Xu, China took the set 25-23.
The third set saw Ebata add points for Japan to lead 6-4, when China fought back to tie 6-6 along to 12-all. China's wing spiker Hui Ruoqi, also the leading scorer of the team so far in the tournament, came for rescue with four kills to help China lead 15-12.
Japan staged an impressive 5-2 run to equal 17-all and then tie along to 21-21. Ebata scored four kills to help Japan take the set point 24-22. China's Hui saved one set point, but Kimura smashed China's attempt to comeback with an unanswered spike. Japan edged a thrilling set 25-23.
The same key spikers performed best in the fourth set, but Japan made mistakes and could not handle Wang's bombardment. Brilliantly co-ordinated by setter Wei Qiuyue, they took the set 25-23.
The decider saw Wang's kills put China narrowly in the lead before Japan levelled 5-5. Ebata and Kimura stepped up and their hard spiking eventually won the set 18-16 and clinched the match.