Japan reaches women’s volleyball semifinals

Kyodo

Japan advanced to the Olympic women’s volleyball semifinals for the first time since 1988 with a five-set victory over China at the London Games on Tuesday.

Japan saved two match points in the fifth set to win 28-26, 23-25, 25-23, 23-25, 18-16 at Earls Court, setting up a meeting with defending Olympic champion Brazil or Russia on Thursday.

The Japanese survived a pair of match points at 15-14 and 16-15 before reserve setter Hitomi Nakamichi came off the bench to help Japan to victory with her effective serves.

Saori Kimura and Yukiko Ebata tied for the match high with 33 points each in Japan’s first win in six Olympic meetings with China.

“It was a very tough match but we kept on believing we were going to win,” Kimura said. “It was our best match since our Olympic squad was formed. We gave it everything we’ve got.”

Hui Ruoqi scored a team-high 26 points for China.

Japan last won an Olympic medal in women’s volleyball at the Los Angeles Games in 1984, when it took bronze.