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Aussie volleyballers lose to Serbia
Angela Habashy
19:11 AEST Wed Jun 6 2012

Australia have suffered their first loss at the men's volleyball Olympic qualification tournament in Japan, going down to competition favourites Serbia on Wednesday.

After winning their opening three matches at the event in convincing style the Australians succumbed to the world No.7 side in straight sets 25-18 25-19 25-18 at Tokyo's Metropolitan Gym.

It was a comprehensive performance by the Serbs who dominated in every facet of the game, impressing in their attacks and blocks.

While the world No.22 Australians had shown consistent good form in their previous victories over higher-ranked opponents Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Asian champions Iran, they had trouble dealing with Serbia's power game.

Nikola Kovacevic and Sasa Starovic were the stars for Serbia with 13 points apiece while captain Igor Yudin led Australia with 12 points.

"Today Serbia showed us a level of play where we want to be in the future. It was a good experience for us," Yudin conceded.

"It doesn't hurt so much to lose to the No.7 team in the world.

"The difference between us and Serbia is in the technical skills and consistency of play - they do the little things well."

Serbia, who are so far undefeated at the event after four rounds, have now leapfrogged Australia into top spot on the ladder.

However, the second-placed Australians are currently still on track to qualify for London as the best-placed Asian team with both the winning team and highest placed Asians booking a spot at the Games.

If the tournament's winner is an Asian team then the next best Asian team will also qualify.

Australia will battle hosts Japan on Thursday, before taking on Korea and finally world No.10 China over the round robin tournament which ends on Sunday.

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