LONDON (AP) — Saori Sakoda spiked Japan back to the Olympic podium in women’s volleyball.
Sakoda scored 23 points, including the match-winning kill, in Japan’s straight-set victory over South Korea for the bronze medal at the London Games.
The victory ended a medal drought for Japan that dated to the 1984 Los Angeles Games, where the team also won the bronze. The Japanese join Russia with six total medals in women’s volleyball, which joined the Olympics in 1964.
When Sakoda finally left the floor at Earls Court after a long celebration of the 25-22, 26-24, 25-21 win, she was swamped by photographers and well-wishers like a rock star. She bowed to her admirers.
“Quite simply, happy,” she said.
Japan has won gold in women’s volleyball twice, in the sport’s Olympic debut in Tokyo and at the 1976 Montreal Games. The team also won silver at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics and bronze in 1984.
South Korea’s best result in Olympic play was a bronze in 1976.
Kim Yeon-koung, the leading scorer in London, had 22 points for No. 15 South Korea. She finished the tournament with 207 total points.
“I believe that throughout this tournament the level of Korean volleyball has gone to the next level,” Kim…