Japan women keep medal hopes alive


Host Japan defeated Turkey in four sets in a second-round match to keep alive its hopes of winning a medal at the women’s World Volleyball Championships on Thursday.

Japan won 30-28, 22-25, 25-21, 25-17 to improve its record to 3-2 and stay behind unbeaten Serbia and Montenegro and defending champion Italy (4-1) in Pool E, with two matches remaining for each team in the second round.

The top two teams from each of Pools E and F will advance to the semifinals. Cuba and Taiwan are also 3-2 in Pool E.

“My players did a great job in a must-win situation, and they stayed focused until the end,” Japan head coach Shoichi Yanagimoto said.

Sachiko Sugiyama scored a team-high 17 points and Miyuki Takahashi added 15 points.

The Japanese women are aiming for their first podium finish at a world championship since winning silver in 1978. They slumped to 13th four years ago, their first finish below the top 10.

Earlier in the day, Serbia and Montenegro took a major step toward the semifinals, beating European champion Poland 25-15, 25-22, 25-14.

Ivana Djerisilo tallied a match-high 20 points for the Balkan side.

“I’m sure we’ll continue to play as good as this until the semifinals, and we hope maybe even the final,” Djerisilo said.

“After the second technical timeout in each set, we played harder and won,” Serbia and Montenegro captain Vesna Citakovic said. Her team has won all seven matches in the tournament.

Tournanment favorite Brazil beat Olympic champion China in five sets to remain undefeated.

Jacqueline Carvalho fired in 20 points to lead the Brazilians to a 24-26, 20-25, 25-21, 25-16, 19-17 win.

Brazil, which won its third straight World Grand Prix title in September, improved to a perfect 5-0 in the second round while China fell to 2-3.

The second round features the top four finishers in each of four six-team first-round groups. Each team’s results against its fellow qualifiers from the first round count in the latest standings.

In other Pool E action, Italy (4-1) beat South Korea (0-5) 25-18, 25-19, 25-13, while Cuba (3-2) downed Taiwan (3-2) 25-21, 25-20, 25-14.

In Pool F action in Osaka, Russia (5-0) kept its perfect record with a 25-17, 25-18, 25-16 win over the Netherlands (2-3). Germany (3-2) beat Puerto Rico (0-5) 25-23, 25-22, 25-22.