TOKYO: Japan qualified for their fourth successive Olympics in women’s volleyball on Saturday after an inspired captain’s performance from Saori Kimura.
The Japanese were beaten 23-25, 27-25, 27-25, 21-25, 15-9 by Italy in the Tokyo qualifiers but clinched the two sets they required to book their ticket, helped in no small measure by Kimura’s 31 points.
Her heroics ensured Japan joined Italy, the Netherlands and Asia rivals South Korea in this summer’s Games in Rio.
Japan, bronze medalists behind Brazil and the United States at the 2012 London Olympics, have posted four wins and two defeats to claim the fourth and final spot for Brazil.
Antonella Del Core led Italy with 22 points.
“Kimura was amazing,” Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe told reporters.
“She was so hot it was like there were flames coming from her. We achieved our goal of getting to the Olympics so now the pressure’s off a little bit.”
Meanwhile, the Dutch thrashed Peru 25-16, 25-14, 25-17 to qualify for their third Olympics and first since the 1996 Atlanta Games. AFP