Volleyball: Poland, Russia one point away from 2012

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Poland and Russia moved to within a point of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics when they posted their eighth win apiece at the World Cup men's volleyball tournament in Tokyo on Friday.

Poland, the 1976 Olympic gold medallists, rallied to a narrow 17-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-12 victory over Italy for a 8-1 win-loss record in the 12-team round robin competition.

And Russia fought against a vociferous home crowd to beat Japan 25-23, 25-16, 25-23.

With two more matches left, Poland and Russia lead the table on 24 points, followed by Brazil on 19 points, Italy on 18 points and Cuba on 16 points, keeping their hopes of qualifying alive.

Winners receive three points from 3-0 or 3-1 wins and two points from a 3-2 win, while losers receive one point from a 2-3 defeat. The top three teams will be eligible for the Olympics.

"It was important to get three points from a win today, so that made us a bit nervous, but I'm glad that we won to get three points," said Russian coach Vladimir Alekno.

Poland and Russia will face each other on the final day on Sunday, but the day's top scorer Maxim Mikhaylov, who scored a total of 19 points, refused to talk about the match.

"It's too early to talk about the match against Poland. First of all, we must think about tomorrow's match against Iran," said Mikhaylov.

Defending champions Brazil powered past Iran 25-20, 25-18, 25-16 to be tied with the same 6-3 record as Italy and Cuba. Cuba squeezed through to a 25-21, 18-25, 26-28, 25-20, 15-13 win over China.

In other matches, Serbia defeated Egypt 25-20, 19-25, 25-22, 28-26, while the United States edged past Argentina 27-29, 25-14, 25-17, 20-25, 15-12.

© 2011 AFP

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