LONDON – Japan’s women’s volleyball team fell in four sets to Italy for their first loss on Monday in the Olympic tournament.
Japan, seeking its first medal since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, suffered a 25-22, 25-21, 20-25, 25-22 defeat, dropping to 1-1 with three points in Group A.
Italy improved to 2-0 with six points as did Russia, which beat the Dominican Republic in another Group A match on Monday.
“Italy was excellent,” said Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe. “We brought out our best so it was a good match. As the opponents are World Cup champions, they will not let us win easily.”
Italy’s Carolina del Pilar Costagrande posted a team-high 17 points, while Japan’s Yukiko Ebata was the match’s highest scorer at 21 points.
Japan will face the Dominican Republic on Wednesday. The top four teams from Group A and B, comprising six teams each, qualify for the knockout round.
In Monday’s earlier matches, China moved to 2-0 in its group after defeating Turkey, 3-1 (25-20, 25-20, 29-31, 25-22). Kim Yeon Koung had a staggering 34 points to lead South Korea to a 3-1 victory over Serbia.
U.S. downs Brazil
The U.S. women’s volleyball team defeated Brazil 3-1 on Monday at the Olympics in an early-round rematch of the Beijing Games final won by the Brazilians.
Destinee Hooker had 23 points and Jordan Larson added 18 for the top-ranked Americans, who won 25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21 to improve to 2-0 in pool play at Earls Court.
Sheilla Castro had 15 points for No. 2 Brazil, which was energized after a third-set victory but lost on Logan Tom’s floater in the fourth set. Tom is playing in her fourth Olympics.
“I call her the glue,” coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “She holds this team together.”
Brazil has lost five straight international matches to the U.S. The teams are 21-21 in career play.
Larson, a wing spiker making her Olympic debut, hit a floater to put the Americans up 23-17 in the first set. She spiked for set point, with Brazil looking out of sorts.
The U.S. pulled away in the second set with a 7-point run, capped by Tom’s spike. Brazil twice held off the U.S. at set point and had some momentum, until Hooker’s kill ended it.
Brazil went up 8-3 early in the third, but the Americans rallied for a 16-15 lead on Christa Harmotto’s block. It was back and fourth until Harmotto’s attempt to return Thaisa Menezes’ spike went awry.
The result left the Brazilians at 1-1 in the pool.
“Now is not the time to think about the game, but to think about the next steps,” Brazilian captain Fabiana Oliveira said, adding the match might be a preview of the final.
The Americans took the top spot in the world rankings at the end of 2011, ending Brazil’s four-year run at No. 1.
The Brazilians began Olympic play by defeating Turkey in five sets. The U.S. opened with a 3-1 victory over South Korea behind Hooker’s 21 points.
China, Serbia, Turkey and South Korea are in the six-team pool with the U.S. and Brazil. Japan, Russia, Italy, Algeria, the Dominican Republic and Britain make up the other pool. The top four teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals.
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