Saturday, August 27, 2011

Japan Women Lose at Volleyball Grand Prix

Here's some news on Japan's women's volleyball team at the World Grand Prix event currently going on in Macao, China.

Japan failed to get out of the round-robin coming out of it with one win against two losses.

In the opening match of the final, against a powerful US squad, Japan took it on the chin in three straight sets: 25-22, 25-17 and 25-23 in Pool B round robin action at the final round of the Federation of International Volleyball (FIVB) World Grand Prix.

The American's top scorer, Destinee Hooker powered her way over Japan's blockers scoring points at will. On defence, the USA easily blocked Japan's at the net and continued their defence on the floor providing ample opportunity for them to attack.

Japan struggled all game to control the USA attack spending more time defending than setting up for offence. Still, thanks to nice plays from setter Takeshita Yoshie, Japan was able to hang around, until the US was able to string together some nice plays to take the first set.That play-making continued in the second.

But, it wasn't until the third set that Japan really showed their mettle, with some great defensive stops and some poor Yankee serving helping Japan remain close. But still, Japan was no match for the US, the defending World Grand Prix champions.

Says Japan team coach Manabe Masayoshi (surname first): "we played with last year's champion and we lost a lot of points in their jump serving, so that was very difficult for us."

On Thursday, August 25, 2011 Japan took on the the Brazil team in its second match. But despite the aggression of the Japanese team, Brazil won in straight sets: 25-17, 25-22 and 25-21.

The Brazilians were sharp as they did not allow Japan to counter attack in the first set. In the second set, despite Kano Maiko and Kimura Saori (surname first) alternating their attack from side to side, Brazil continued to block and stymied the Japanese attack.

It was more of the same in the third set, but Brazil pulled out quickly and while Japan tried valiantly to close the gap, Brazil was simply the more powerful team.

In Japan's third game of the round robin, held on August 26, 2011, they took on the Italian team defeating the team from the boot 25-23, 25-23, 25-19.

Italy did not play good defence in this one, showing why they failed to win a match in the round robin, a surprise since Italy is the defending European champ. Japan attacked relentlessly from the right side, and Italy was slow to respond, perhaps because it had lot star player Paola Cardullo in their second game against Brazil. Cardullo had hurt her hand badly and underwent later that evening, taking her out of action for the next several weeks.

It was Japan's captain Araki Erika who led the offence for Japan in the first set, continually taking advantage of Italy's poor defence.

In the second set, Italy's Francesca Piccinini was repeatedly frustrated by the Japanese wall of defence, and was substituted by Christina Barcellini who brought positive energy in with her helping Italy finally break through the Japanese defence with two serving aces in a row. That threw Japan a little, as they then failed to get their offence going, as Italy made stop after stop before countering. Still, despite Japan's bad luck, Italy suffered more, as Japan was lucky to steal the second set.

In the third, it was all Japan as Araki, Kimura and Yamamoto Ai all scored in the double digits just decimating the Italian defence. When Italy did go on the offence, it was never allowed to get on a roll, as it had to fight Japan for all of its points.

Since Japan ended the round robin 1W-2L, it does not go on, instead playing on Saturday, August 27, 2011 in a classification match to determine 5th and 6th place. The luckless Italians who finished 0W-3L will play a classification match to determine 7th and 8th place.

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

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