Pool B hosts master fourth straight-set win in a row
Japan’s Kotona Hayashi in attack
Japan continued their perfect march through Pool B of the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifiers on Wednesday by hammering out their fourth consecutive straight-set victory of the tournament in Tokyo. After shutting out Bulgaria, the home team is one of three still unbeaten in the tournament, but the only one without a set lost so far. With Türkiye and Brazil also undefeated, the two Olympic tickets from Tokyo to Paris are still up for grabs, as the wide-open race between the three teams continues as they meet each other from Friday to Sunday. Belgium are the only other team in the pool, still with a shot at the Olympic berths after the end of the fourth competition day.
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In Wednesday’s late match, Japan delivered an emphatic 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-11) shutout of Bulgaria. The young European squad managed to bring in some suspense into the game only during the first set, when they had two-point leads at 4-2 and 7-5. Dominating on the court the rest of the time and outplaying the opponents on all scoring counts, the hosts managed to please the home fans with yet another convincing straight-set success.
The fantastic fans in Tokyo
The two Japanese outside hitters, captain Sarina Koga and Kotona Hayashi, were the only two players to reach the double digits during the match. Koga produced the match high of 13 points, including an ace, while Hayashi finished with 10, all in attack. Middle blocker Nichika Yamada, on the other hand, excelled with four aces and two blocks towards a nine-point tally.
The Bulgarians are still winless in four matches and stand seventh on one point.
Meanwhile, heavy favourites Türkiye lost their second set of the tournament, but achieved their fourth back-to-back three-point victory to maintain their position among the top two teams in the table. In their game against Argentina on Wednesday, this year’s Volleyball Nations League and European champions celebrated a 3-1 (25-16, 22-25, 25-15, 25-15) win. With 17 points each, opposite Melissa Vargas (13 attacks, three aces, one block) and outside hitter Ebrar Karakurt (12 attacks, three blocks, two aces) topped the scorers’ chart of the match, while none of Argentina’s players managed to reach the double digits. The South Americans are fifth in the standings on a 1-3 win-loss record and three points, above sixth-placed Puerto Rico on set ratio.
Brazil also remained undefeated in Tokyo after a 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-9) sweep of their game against Puerto Rico on Wednesday. Four Brazilians reached the double digits in this match: opposite Rosamaria Montibeller with 15 points, middle blockers Thaisa Menezes with 14 and Diana Duarte Alecrim with 13, and outside hitter Julia Bergmann with 13.
In the first match of the day, Belgium hammered out a 3-0 (25-12, 25-13, 25-21) shutout of Peru to save some mathematical chances for the top two places in the final standings. They are currently placed fourth on 2-2 and six points, while the winless Peruvians became the first team of the pool without a shot at the Paris 2024 tickets. Belgian outside Manon Stragier and opposite Pauline Martin were the best scorers of the match with 14 points apiece.
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