RIO DE JANEIRO – The Japan women’s volleyball team suffered a third defeat in four matches at the Rio Olympics on Friday, this time losing 3-0 to Russia and putting its bid for a place in the quarterfinals in jeopardy.
Russia plowed through its opponent, dominating the first (25-14) and third (25-18) sets, with the only challenge coming in the second when Japan managed to push it to extra points, before eventually losing 30-28.
Japan, the London Olympic bronze medalist, and Argentina meet in their final Pool A game Sunday, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals.
In other Pool A play, Argentina edged Cameroon 3-2 earlier on Friday, while Brazil routed South Korea 3-0 to stay unbeaten at 4-0.
Russia rode the broad shoulders of Nataliya Goncharova, whose 20 points on 19 spikes and one block did the bulk of the damage, while Tatiana Kosheleva (13) and Yana Shcherban (12) chipped in to ensure Russia got past Japan with little trouble.
Captain Saori Kimura was the lone bright spark for Japan, but her 12 points did little to stem the Russian tide.
“It really stings that we weren’t able to win even one set,” said Kimura, who was in tears as she spoke at the post-match news conference.
Japan, with three points, sits in the last quarterfinal slot, just ahead of Argentina with the same win-loss record, but with one more point due to a superior set ratio.
In Pool B action, the quarterfinal-bound U.S. team (4-0) beat Italy 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20. It marked the first time Italy won a set in four Olympic matches
China lost to Serbia 3-0 to fall to 2-2, while the Netherlands beat Puerto Rico 3-0 to move to 3-1.
Meanwhile, in beach volleyball action, three-time gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and partner April Ross of the U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals in a midnight match, dispatching Italy 21-10, 21-16 in just 35 minutes.
It was the third time in four matches the Americans played at midnight to showcase them for the U.S. television audience.
You won’t hear them complain: The match for the gold medal is also scheduled for 12 a.m. local time.
“We know that we wanted to get used to the midnight matches because that’s when the later (round) matches are,” Walsh Jennings said.