Thu, May 22, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Medalists Serbia beat Thailand in Olympic qualifier

AFP , TOKYO

Thailand's Sittirak Onuma, left, spikes the ball over Serbian blockers Vesna Citakovic, center, and Jovana Brakocevic during a match of the final qualifying round for the Beijing Olympics women’s volleyball tournament in Tokyo yesterday.

PHOTO:AFP

World bronze medalists Serbia are a step away from winning a ticket to the Beijing Olympics women's volleyball competition after they whipped Thailand in the Games' final qualifying round on Wednesday.

With a 25-16, 25-23, 25-15 win, the Serbians remained unbeaten with four straight victories in the eight-team round robin competition.

The winners of the tournament, along with the best-placed Asian nation and the two other best-placed teams from the remaining six, qualify for the Games in August.

“We must play good, especially serves, because Thailand have very good attacks ... It was difficult in the second set, because Thailand defended incredibly well,” said Serbian coach Zoran Terzic.

“It was a very important game for us. Now we are in a very clear situation, I think, if we win against Puerto Rico [next], we are almost in Beijing,” he added.

But Maja Ognjenovic, who hit one service winner in the 69-minute match, said the team were “not in the Olympic Games yet.”

“Of course, it’s a dream for all of us, but we are going to concentrate on our next match, the fifth match. After that, we will talk about the Beijing Olympics,” she said.

It is not over for Thailand as well, despite having one win against three defeats.

“We still have matches against Asian rivals — Kazakhstan and Japan. We still have the chance to go to Beijing. We’ll do our very best to beat them,” said Thai coach Srisamutnak Nataphon.

The tournament combined the Asian qualifying round.

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