Tokyo, Japan, May 17, 2016 - An at-times shaky Peru has kept it’s hopes of qualifying for the Rio Olympics alive with a 3-1 (19-25, 25-22, 25,23,25,23) win over a much improved Kazakhstan in the opening match of day three of the qualifying tournament in Tokyo.
Peru now has a 2-1 record this week, while Kazakhstan remain winless and in desperate need of a win to re-ignite their Olympic dreams.
Kazakhstan coach Vyacheslav Shapran had promised to spend the rest day ironing out some of the obvious shortcomings apparent after his team’s 3-0 loss to Japan on Sunday.
He changed his starting setter and Libero, and it had the desired effect. Diana Kavtporina was busy as Libero, while Irina Lukomskaya was able to provide good service to outside hitters Yekaterina Zhdanova and Radmila Beresneva.
By contrast Peru, with everything still to play for in Tokyo, looked out of sorts in the opening set. They started and finished with unforced errors, and in between struggled to exert any influence over their Asian opponents.
Angela Leyva was once again being asked to do most of the heavy lifting, and had eight points by the time Kazakhstan wrapped up the set 25-19.
Peru awoke from their slumber in the second set, but it wasn’t without some worrying moments for the South Americans.
After Peru raced to a 4-0 lead, a timely Kazakhstan time-out changed the momentum and gave Kazakhstan the next five points.
From there the set see-sawed, with Leyva continuing to be strong for Peru, and Zhdanova dominating for Kazakhstan, who was also benefitting from a much stronger defence than two days earlier.
Despite continuing to make a lot of unforced errors (the count was 13-6 at the end of the set) Peru took the second set 25-22.
Kazakhstan will wonder how it lost the third set, given it led for most of the time and seemed to be in control. Kristina Anikonova was a blocking machine, sending back about a dozen of the best spikes the Peruvian attack could throw at her.
Leyva was keeping Peru in the game, taking her personal score to 27 by set’s end, but errors were still proving costly (19-9 after 3). But somehow, Kazakhstan managed to throw it away after leading 22-19, with Peru clinching the set 25-23 and taking a 2-1 lead.
If the third set was frustrating for Kazakhstan, the situation didn’t improve in the fourth set. After opening up a 4-0 lead, and then 6-2, the team allowed Peru back into the set with several unforced errors to see the score tied up at 7-7.
It was point-for-point for the rest of the set, with Beresneva (21 points) and Anikova (13 points, including eight blocks), continuing to perform well for the Asian team, while Leyva with 30 points remained the focal point for Peru.
The South Americans eventually took the set 25-23, and the match 19-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 to stay in the race for Rio qualification, while for Kazakhstan their dream looks close to over with a 0-3 start to the qualifying campaign.
World Olympic Qualification Tournament websites:Women's WOQT in JapanMen's WOQT in JapanWomen's WOQT in Puerto RicoMen's WOQT in Mexico