Italy and Japan each posted their third straight win Monday, in Tokyo, to remain unbeaten in the women's volleyball final qualifying round for the Sydney Olympic Games.
The Italians, seeking their first berth in the Olympics, moved a big step towards Sydney by beating Atlanta Olympic silver medallists and pre-tournament favorites China 32-30, 23-25, 25-19, 25-19.
The Japanese, helped by a vociferous partisan crowd, beat the Netherlands 18-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-20.
Italy made qualification for Sydney almost certain after they defeated the Netherlands and Asian silver medallists South Korea on the first two days, while Japan must take on stronger teams in the remaining days.
South Korea outgunned Argentina 25-20, 25-18, 25-20, while Croatia downed Canada 25-21, 25-18, 25-20 in the eight-nation round robin, which is also the Asian qualifying round.
Croatia and South Korea stood with a 2-1 win-loss record, followed by the Netherlands and China with 1-2, ahead of winless Argentina and Canada.
The country which finishes first will take the first ticket for Sydney. Then the top Asian country will qualify as Asian qualifiers, and the best two teams among the remaining six countries will get the last two places for the Olympics.
"I'm very happy that we won today, because we proved that we can play at a high level against China. We were always tense, we never felt relaxed," said Italy's captain Maurizia Cacciatori - (AFP)
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