Salem Radio Network News Saturday, September 18, 2021

Sports

Olympics-Volleyball-U.S. down China, world champs Serbia beat Japan

By Toshiki Hashimoto

TOKYO (Reuters) – The United States dealt China a second consecutive straight sets defeat in women’s volleyball to leave the defending champions in danger of missing out on the knockout stages.

The Americans, bronze medallists at Rio in 2016, have won five Olympic medals in the event but never gold. Their 29-27 25-22 25-21 victory moved them to the top of Pool B without dropping a set, having beaten Argentina in their opener.

Jordan Thompson, the Americans’ 24-year-old opposite hitter who is competing in her first Games, impressed again, top-scoring with 34 points to set a Tokyo 2020 record.

“We wanted to serve tough and stick with a solid block setup. We tried to have a short memory when we made mistakes or China made a great kill,” Thompson, who also made four blocks and hit two aces, said.

“China is a legendary team with some of the best players in the world. They pushed us, they’ll be back.”

China, who were stunned in straight sets by Turkey in their first match, are fifth in Pool B without a point. Only the top four qualify for the quarter-finals.

Coach Lang Ping said the players were “nervous”, adding that skipper and top scorer Zhu Ting (18 points) was playing with a problem in her wrist.

“I’ve never seen Zhu Ting be a non-factor in a game as she was two days ago against Turkey when she got subbed out twice,” U.S. coach Karch Kiraly said.

“Today she was back to more of herself. There’s tape on her wrist and people say there is something going on but we can’t worry about that. She’s the bedrock of China’s team.”

Reigning world champions Serbia leapfrogged Japan to top Pool A after beating the hosts 25-23 25-16 26-24 with Tijana Boskovic matching Thompson’s 34 points.

Boskovic’s spikes on crucial points when the scores were tied late in the first and third sets proved to be the difference, while Serbia also made 11 blocks.

“I’m really happy we finished the game in straight sets,” Boskovic said. “Japan played great defence. Our defence was pretty good too but we can do even better.”

Earlier, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team claimed their first win in Tokyo with a 25-19 25-15 25-13 victory over bottom side Argentina, with Nataliya Goncharova scoring 17 points and making four blocks.

(Reporting by Toshiki Hashimoto in Tokyo and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by John Stonestreet)

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