By Yoo Jee-ho
TOKYO, July 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea defeated the Dominican Republic for its second consecutive victory in the Tokyo Olympic women's volleyball tournament Thursday, brightening hopes of advancing to the knockout phase.
The 14th-ranked South Korea beat No. 7 Dominican Republic 3-2 (25-20, 17-25, 25-18, 15-25, 15-12) at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
South Korea has two wins and a loss after three matches in Pool A. The top four teams out of six after round-robin play will progress to the quarterfinals. South Korea temporarily moved to third after Thursday's win.
South Korea opened the Olympics with a straight-set loss to Brazil on Sunday but beat Kenya in three sets two days later.
In the deciding fifth set, the teams traded points until South Korea went up 7-5, the first two-point lead by either team in the set.
The Dominicans pulled even again at 9-9, and Kim Yeon-koung came through with a huge block on Jineiry Martinez.
A serve point by Kim put South Korea up 11-9, and a block by Yang Hyo-jin gave South Korea a three-point lead.
The Dominicans called two straight timeouts to stop South Korea's momentum. Kim Hee-jin's attack point gave South Korea a 13-10 lead. With South Korea holding match point at 14-12, Park Jeong-ah finished off the game with a spike.
Kim Yeon-koung led South Korea with 20 points, and Kim Hee-jin and Park chipped in 16 points apiece. Setter Yeum Hye-seon scored four serve points.
"To get to the quarterfinals, this was the match we really had to win," Kim Yeon-koung said. "We talked before the game about how we'd been preparing for this moment for two years. We hadn't done well against the Dominicans recently, but we broke down a lot of numbers and prepared as well as we could."
Setter Yeum Hye-seon, who contributed four serve points, said she was particularly confident about her serves in the match and added, "There's just something about being on the national team that helps my serves."
As for setting up the balanced attack, Yeum said, "We have so many talented attackers. I wanted to spread the wealth and get them all involved in the offense."
Next up is Japan at 7:40 p.m. Saturday, back at Ariake Arena, followed by the final group match Monday against Serbia.
A win over Japan will all but send South Korea into the quarters, and South Korean players said they will pull out all the stops to beat their archrival.
"It's a match we absolutely have to win," Yeum said. "Any match against Japan is important, and we're meeting them with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. We have to stick together as a team."
Kim said South Korea has to be more consistent and learn how to bounce back after a slow start.
"We may not be a volleyball powerhouse, but I think we have great teamwork," the captain said. "I think we proved today that if we can stay tight as a team, we can do some damage."