Monday, August 22, 2011

Women's Volleyball Team Upsets World Champs

With clenched fists, Ishida Mizuho celebrates after Japan defeats Russia.

On Sunday, August 21, the Japanese women's volleyball team pulled off a surprise victory over the defending world-champion squad from Russia in a straight-sets victory 25-23, 25-19 and 25-19. It was the first straight-set's victory for the Japanese women over Russia in 16 years.

The victory at Tokyo's Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo earned Japan a berth in the final round of eight at the 19th edition of the women's 2011 World Grand Prix to take place next week at the Macau East Asian Games Dome in Macao, China.

Japan finished the preliminary round to the World Grand Prix with a record of 6-3, while the Russians finished with a record of 7-2 - both good enough to get to the tourney next week.  

"My players kept their concentration and defended well," explains Japan head coach Masayoshi Manabe. "Mizuho Ishida came off the bench and did an excellent job."

Despite the loss to Japan, Russia's head coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin was not put off by the result, as the team had already qualified for the World Grand Prix before the match. "Now we are missing three of our best players, and there's no need to panic for tonight's loss," he says.

The tournament, which began on August 5, started with 16 teams in a round-robin, including: Japan (6-3), Russia (7-2), Poland (4-5), Serbia (6-3), Italy (7-2), Germany (2-7), Brazil (9-0), Dominican Republic (3-6), United States of America (8-1), Cuba (2-7), Peru (0-9), Argentina (2-7), China (6-3), South Korea (5-4), Kazakhstan (0-9) and Thailand (5-4).

Moving into the field of eight along with Russia and Japan are: Brazil, USA, Serbia, Italy, China and Thailand.

The tournament wraps up on August 28, 2011.

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

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