Japan continued its winless streak in a 3-1 defeat to Italy in the men’s World Cup as the host fell to its seventh loss in a row on Saturday.
The Italians, who improved to 9-1, claimed a berth for the 2004 Athens Olympics along with undefeated Brazil, which dominated the United States 3-0 to win its 10th straight game of the tournament. Japan dropped the first two sets but won the third, but the European champion continued to unleash nerve-wracking spikes for an eventual 25-21, 27-25, 25-27, 25-20 victory at Yoyogi national gymnasium in Tokyo. Brazil’s comprehensive victory maintained its unbeaten record and with set ratio in its favor, only Japan, which stands at 3-7, lies between it and a first-ever World Cup title on Sunday.
Serbia and Montenegro, needing only one set to claim the third berth, did it the hard way but finally claimed its Olympic ticket in a 3-1 loss to France. The Olympic champion slipped to 8-2, good enough for third. Brazil’s first-set win actually ensured its Olympic spot but the 3-0 victory extinguished U.S. hopes of claiming a top three spot on set ratio, therefore guaranteeing Italy a medal.
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