Japan overpowers China into women's volleyball semis

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Japan outgunned Asian arch rival China 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the women's volleyball event at the London Olympics Tuesday. [Xinhua] 

Japan outgunned Asian arch rival China 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the women's volleyball event at the London Olympics Tuesday.

China, champion in 2004 Athens Games and bronze medal winner in Beijing Games, lost the match 28-26, 23-25, 25-23, 23-25 and 18-16 at the Earls Court, central London.

Japan will face the winner between Russia and defending champion Brazil in the semifinals.

The two sides started strongly to tie 13-all as China raced ahead 19-15 with a 6-2 run. But, Japan, led by Kimura and, pulled level at 21-21 and then 25-25. China saved a set points before losing the set 26-28.

China revived to lead 4-1 in the second set before Japan pulled back to level 6-6 and tie 14-all. Middle blocker Xu Yunli joined Wang Yimei to take a narrow lead 22-18. After Japan fought back 22-23 with a 4-1 run, the Chinese women left no chance to their rivals, with a Wang's back-front kill and a spike from Xu, China took the set 25-23.

The third set saw wing spiker Yuiko Ebata add points for Japan to lead 6-4, when China fought back to tie 6-6 along to 12-all. China's wing spiker Hui Ruoqi, also the leading scorer of the team so far in the tournament, came for rescue with four kills to help China lead 15-12. Japan staged an impressive 5-2 run to equal 17-all and then tie along to 21-21. Ebata scored four kills to help Japan take the set point 24-22. China's Hui saved one set point, but Kimura smashed China's attempt to comeback with an unanswered spike. Japan edged a thrilling set 25-23.

The same key spikers performed best in the fourth set, but Japan made mistakes and could not handle Wang's bombardment. Brilliantly co-ordinated by setter Wei Qiuyue, they took the set 25-23.

The decider saw Wang's kills put China narrowly in the lead before Japan levelled 5-5. Ebata and Kimura stepped up and their hard spiking eventually won the set 18-16 and clinched the match.

Two more matches will be competed on Tuesday between the world No.1 United States and Dominican Republic, and Italy and South Korea later.

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