• Kyodo

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Two-time Olympic veterans Saori Kimura and Yoshie Takeshita were among 12 picked to the Japanese women’s volleyball team for the London Games by coach Masayoshi Manabe on Monday.

Star spiker Megumi Kurihara did not make the cut.

“It was an extremely difficult selection, but I felt these are the 12 who give Japan the best shot of a medal at the Olympics,” Manabe said. “We hope to channel everything this team has as we head to London with spirit and four years’ worth of motivation.”

Also in the team are Yuko Sano and Erika Araki who both played four years ago in Beijing, where Japan finished fifth. Middle blocker Ai Otomo, who made the 2004 team for Athens but missed Beijing, returns as the fifth player with Olympic experience.

Kaori Inoue, who missed the final qualifying campaign because of an injury, Hitomi Nakamichi, Mai Yamaguchi, Risa Shinnabe, Yukiko Ebata and Maiko Kano round out the rest of the team.

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