S. Korea, Serbia, Japan qualify for Olympics

South Korea, Serbia and Japan qualified for the London Olympics, joining two-time world champions Russia, on the final day of the women's volleyball qualifying tournament on Sunday.

South Korea beat Peru 25-11, 25-18, 25-21 to finish on 15 points and in second place behind Russia, who had already qualified for the Games.

The Russian women recorded their seventh straight win earlier in the day, beating Taiwan 25-14, 25-17, 25-17.

But there was disappointment for Thailand.

They outclassed former world champions Cuba 25-23, 25-23, 18-25, 25-21 to keep their hopes alive in the morning and ended with the same win-loss record and point score as the Japanese.

But the Japanese -- who were defeated by Serbia 18-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-21, 15-9 -- ended with a higher set ratio than the Thais, meaning they claimed the Asian ticket to London.

The top three teams in the eight-team round robin and the best-placed Asian side among the rest qualify for the Olympics.

Serbia ended in third place with a 5-2 win-loss record and 14 points, while Japan and Thailand ended with a 4-3 record for 12 points.

"We couldn't take part in the Beijing Olympics and we struggled since then, but today we were able to achieve our dream," said South Korean coach Kim Hyung-Sil.

"We won the bronze medal in the Olympics 36 years ago. We'll do our best to win a medal again. Hopefully our men's team will also qualify for the Olympics."

Hwang Youn-Joo, the team's top scorer of the day with 14 points, said injuries had prevented South Korea from getting to the Olympics last time.

"This time, everybody had a strong feeling to go to the London Olympics as a unified team," said Hwang.

In the last match of the tournament, Japan knew they had qualified for the Games after the third set and their concentration faded in the later stages.

"Japan played very well, but they lost their energy after the third set" because they had already qualified for the Games, said Serbia coach Zoran Terzic.

"We played under a lot of pressure on the court, but we are really happy, because our target was to qualify for the Olympics and we made it," he added.

Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe said: "My players did their job very well."

"I hope my players learned to cope with these tough situations for the London Olympics."


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