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One last thriller as Olympic qualifier in Japan closes

 
Tokyo, Japan, May 22, 2016 - A final day of of the Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament that was threatening to meander to its logical conclusion was sparked back into life by a thrilling five set victory by Japan over The Netherlands on Sunday night.

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With final Olympic qualifiers decided 24 hours earlier, Sunday’s fixtures threatened to become a way of passing time until it was time to visit the airport, but it turned out to be anything but.
 
A raucous home crowd lifted Japan to a gripping 3-2 (20-25, 25-13, 21-25, 32-30, 15-11) win against the Netherlands as the evening turned into a celebration of Olympic qualification, for both teams.




Both could well have been forgiven for hanging their hats back on the peg after locking up Rio spots 24 hours earlier, but instead opted to slug out a five-set epic which left fans almost as exhausted as the players themselves.

It might have been a dead rubber, but it didn’t stop the Japanese fans once again packing the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium to cheers on their Olympic-bound team, and when the fourth set dragged out to 32-30, Japan’s way, the roof was nearly lifted off.

Italian teenager Paola Egonu further enhanced her reputation as one of the most exciting young players in women’s volleyball after helping her team to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-19) win over Kazakhstan.




Seventeen-year-old Egonu finished the match with 21 points, while Kazakhstan will go home without a win but plenty of hope for the future.

Two teams at opposite ends of the qualification table not surprisingly took different approaches to the match.

For Kazakhstan it was all about winning it’s first match, while Italy adopted the same approach as other teams already qualified, and gave chances to players who had not seen a lot of court time in Japan.

Thailand finished the Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament with a 3-0 (25-17, 26-24, 25-23) win over Peru to consolidate fifth place on the ladder.




There were emotional scenes among the Thai players after the match, with the dream of a first ever Olympics at least another four years away.

Two teams who 24 hours earlier were still in the mix to make the Olympics, had to pick themselves up and go to battle one last time.

The Dominican Republic finished its Qualification Tournament with a flurry, posting a second consecutive win by beating Rio-bound Korea 3-0 (25-23, 25-11, 28-26)




Nineteen-year-old Brayelin Martinez and Libero Brenda Castillo led the way for the Dominicans, who finished the tournament with two wins, while Korea could afford to smile despite losing matches to Thailand and the Dominican Republic in the last two days of competition.

For both teams, Sunday’s match was very much about the future. For the Dominicans, it was with an eye on Tokyo 2020, while for Korea it was much shorter term – fine tuning its line-up for Rio in August.



The tournament Dream Team was announced on Sunday:

Best Setter: Haruka Miyashita (JPN)
Best Opposite: Lonneke Sloetjes (NED)
Best Outside Spiker: Kim Yeon-Koung (KOR)
Best outside Spiker; Antonella Del Core (ITA)
Best Middle Blocker: Cristina Chiricella (ITA)
Best Middle Blocker: Yang Hyo-Jin (KOR)
Best Libero: Brenda Castillo (DOM)

Player Statistics

Top Scorer by Day
26 - Yeon-Koung Kim of Korea v Italy on May 14
22 - Angela Leyva of Peru v Dominican Republic on May 15
30 – Angela Leyva of Peru v Kazakhstan on May 17
24 – Saori Sakoda of Japan v Thailand on May 18
23 – Angela Leyva of Peru v Korea on May 20
34 – Kim Yeon-Koung of Korea v Thailand on May 21
32 – Lonneke Sloetjes of Netherlands v Japan on May 22

Top Scoring Performances
34 – Kim Yeon-Koung of Korea v Thailand on May 21
32 – Lonneke Sloetjes of Netherlands v Japan on May 22
31 – Saori Kimura of Japan v Italy on May 21
30 – Angela Leyva of Peru v Kazakhstan on May 17
26 - Yeon-Koung Kim of Korea v Italy on May 14
 
Top Individual Serving Performances
5 – Kim Hee-Jin of Korea v Japan on May 17
4 – Yonkaira Pena of Dominican Republic v Korea on May 22
4 – Cristina Chirichella of Italy v Peru on May 18
 
Top Team Serving Performances
11 – Korea v the Netherlands on May 15
9 – Korea v Japan on May 17
9 – Korea v Kazakhstan on May 18
8 – The Netherlands v Kazakhstan on May 14
8 – Italy v Thailand on May 15
 
Top Individual Blocking Performances
9 – Cristina Chirichella of Italy v Japan on May 21
8 – Yang Hyo-Jin of Korea v Peru on May 20
8 – Kristina Anikonova of Kazakhstan v Peru on May 17
5 - Hyo-Jin Yang of Korea v Italy on May 14
5 – Yvon Belien of Netherlands v Thailand on May 17
5 – Nuekjang Thatdao of Thailand v Japan on May 18, 2016
5 – Thinkaow Pleumjit of Thailand v Japan on Mauy 18, 2016
 
Top Team Blocking Performances
21 – Italy v Japan on May 21
16 – Korea v Peru on May 20
16 – Kazakhstan v Peru on May 17
15 – Thailand v Japan on May 18
15 – Italy v Peru on May 18
 
Highest Scoring Sets
32-30 – Japan v The Netherlands (4th set) on May 22
29-27 – Korea v the Netherlands (1st set) on May 15
29-27 – Thailand v Korea (3rd set) on May 21
26-28 Thailand v Dominican Republic (2nd set) on May 14
28-26 Korea v Japan (1st set) on May 17
28-26 Dominican Republic v Korea (3rd set) on May 22 
 
Highest Scoring Matches
224 – Thailand v Korea 3-2 (19-25, 22-25, 29-27, 26-24, 15-12) on May 21
222 – Italy v Japan 3-2 (23-25, 27-25, 27-25, 21-25, 15-9) on May 21
217 – Japan v Thailand 3-2 (20-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 15-13)
217 – Japan v Netherlands 3-2 (20-25, 25-13, 21-25, 32-30, 15-11) on May 22
190 - Thailand d Dominican Republic 3-1 (26-24, 26-28, 25-16, 25-20) on May 14

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