Japan upsets European champions Russia on Grand Champions Cup opening day
News from the FIVB
Nagoya, Japan, November 12, 2013. Yuki Ishii’s (pictured) match-high 22 points led host Japan to a four-set victory (25-20, 26-28, 25-16, and 26-24) over 2013 European champions Russia on the opening day of the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Grand Champions Cup on Tuesday night at Nippongaishi hall in Nagoya.
Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe fielded a team which included five members of the 2012 Olympic bronze medal squad against the reigning European champions. The game started out as a fairly sluggish affair in the first set but heated up in the second with some exciting play from both sides. Japan took the initiative in the third set with some outstanding defence and fine passing as Russia had problems receiving and the final set proved highly entertaining with Japan staging a late rally to claim the match.
Star spiker Saori Kimura and wing-spiker Saori Sakoda added 17 points each for Japan in the win. Riho Otake and Risa Shinnabe chipped in with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Natalia Malykh was the top scorer for Russia with 16 points in the loss. Japan held an 11-2 advantage in service winners while Russia finished with 14 blocks to 6 by the winning side.
Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe said: “Our serves and defence worked well tonight. Teamwork is very important. Russia has tall players and we don't, so we had to adjust. I was not worried when we lost the second set. We made some mistakes with our spikes. I kept encouraging the players and they responded.”
Russia coach Iury Marichev added: “Japan played very well today. We had a lot of problems and made a lot of mistakes. There were many things we did not do well.”
Olympic champions Brazil downed the United States 26-24, 26-24, 25-20 in their debut at the World Grand Champions Cup. In a rematch of the gold medal game at the London Olympics, Brazil held off a strong challenge from the Americans. It was the third victory of the year for the South Americans in head-to-head matches with the Americans. The first two sets were close, and the U.S. appeared to have the second one in hand, before letting it slip away. Brazil exhibited strong defence at the net and showed poise under pressure on the key points throughout the contest. Fernanda Rodrigues and Natalia Pereira paced Brazil in the victory with 13 points each. Veteran Sheilla Castro, selected MVP of the match, chipped in with 8 points. Kelly Murphy scored a match-high 14 points for Team USA in the loss. Brazil killed 10 blocks – three apiece by Adenizia Silva and Fabiola Sousa – to 5 by the defeated side. The winners held a 2-0 margin in aces.
Led by Bethania De La Cruz's match-high 25 points, the Dominican Republic defeated Asian champions Thailand 25-23, 25-21, and 25-23 in the opening match of the FIVB Women's Grand Champions Cup on Tuesday. Prisilla Rivera added 15 points while Annerys Vargas chipped in with 10 points in the winning cause. Onuma Sittirak finished with 20 points as the leading scorer for Thailand. The winners held a huge 12-3 advantage in the blocking category and also were better 6-2 in the serving aces charts. De La Cruz had five blocks and four aces among her 25 points while Vargas contributed 4 blocks.
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