Australia keep Volleyball dream allive
Published 4 June 2016 (AEDT)
VOLLEYBALL: The Australian men's indoor volleyball team have kept their Rio Olympic dreams alive with one game remaining at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Japan.
Australia beat China 3-1 (25-23, 25-22, 20-25, 26-24) in Tokyo to leapfrog their Asian rivals in the race for one of the three remaining places in Brazil, and now face a final match against ladder leaders Poland on Sunday afternoon.
In Australia’s favour is that Poland has already secured its place in Rio, and will have less to play for than the Volleyroos.
China and Canada, who are both vying with Australia for fourth spot on the ladder, play each other on Sunday.
“Our Olympic dream is still in our hands,” Australian captain Tom Edgar, who finished with a game-high 21 points, said.
After losing their opening match against Iran and dropping a tough five-setter against Canada, the Australians have played some of their best volleyball, beating Japan 3-0 and following up with Saturday’s win over China.
Captain Edgar and Libero Luke Perry set the early scene for Australia against China, and with veteran Nathan Roberts continuing his strong tournament form the Volleyroos looked in command after the opening two sets.
But China, helped by careless Australian errors, lifted in the third set, presenting nervous moments for Australian coach Roberto Santilli.
The Volleyroos could not afford to allow the match to go to five sets, as that would only give the winner two points for the win rather than three.
At 8-all in the fourth set, Santilli put Edgar on the bench and brought Paul Carroll into the game, the risky move paying immediate dividends as Australia took control.
But China once again fought back, got their noses in front, and looked to have momentum before Australian young guns Max Staples and Nehemiah Mote came up with important points to see Australia home.
Mote finished the match with four block points in an impressive defensive display.
“There is volleyball and then there is volleyball with pressure,” Santilli said.
“This is why you did not see a good game today. We made mistakes at the start because of the pressure. China played well by changing their line-up.”
Ross Solly for Volleyball Australia