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Japan wins bronze medal of women's volleyball in 28 years

(Xinhua)

13:11, August 12, 2012

LONDON, Aug. 11(Xinhua) -- Japan's women volleyball team has been back on the Olympic podium in 28 years after winning the bronze medal in London on Saturday.

With the impressive performance of two "Saoris", Kimura and Sakoda,they upset Asian arch rival South Korea 25-22, 26-24, 25-21. South Korean star Kim Yeon-Koung once again top scored for her side with 22 points, but was eventually bested by Saori Sakoda who paced Japan offense with 23.

The last time Japan had finished among the top three was in 1984, when they won the first bronze medal.

"Teamwork was the key to our victory. Players performed extremely well. My brain got so empty when the match was over. Today was the last day of the last three and a half years. Of course we needed to think of win or lose but I let them enjoy the particular last day," said Japan's head coach Masayoshi Manabe.

Despite the loss, the South Koreans deserved to celebrate their returns to semi-finals at the Olympics. Their last showing-up in the top four was at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, when they won a bronze medal.

"I believe that throughout the match we played at a high level. However, the referee's decisions ended up breaking momentum and lowering morale several times, so we couldn't play our best," said Kim.

"For those areas that we didn't do well, we will try to improve on them to do better next time, and for the areas that we did well, we will continue to build on our strengths," she said.

Japan caught a flying start going quickly up 4-0 before South Korean star Kim Yeon-Koung, the undisputed top scorer of the Olympic tournament with 185 points, could break the ice and claim the first point for the group coached by Kim Hyung-Sil.


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