Japan took the game into full sets but missed spikes by Takahiro Yamamoto and Marcos Sugiyama proved costly as the host fell to its second defeat in a row in a 3-2 loss to Australia at the men’s volleyball final qualifying tournament for the Athens Olympics on Tuesday.

In the fifth set at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, Japan rebounded from an 8-3 deficit to tie the match 13-all but failed to win points through back-to-back spikes by Yamamoto and Sugiyama as Australia prevailed 21-15, 25-17, 25-14, 19-25, 15-13. Brazilian-born Sugiyama led Japan’s attack with 24 points while Zane Christensen was the top scorer for the Australians with 18 points.

Japan, aiming to make its first Olympic appearance in three Games, has a 1-2 record while Australia improved to 2-1.

Elsewhere, China beat Iran 3-1 and France triumphed 3-0 over South Korea as both teams maintained their perfect records from the opener. Canada defeated Algeria 3-0.

Only the overall winner and the best Asian team from the eight-team competition will qualify for Athens.

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