GIOIA DEL COLLE, Italy, July 22, 2003 – Keba Phipps scored a match-high 21 points to lead five players in double figures as the U.S. women’s national volleyball team edged Japan, 3-2, to improve to 2-0 at the 2003 FIVB World Grand Prix Tuesday afternoon at the Palazzo dello Sport.
Phipps had 17 kills, three service aces and one block in the 24-26, 25-17, 25-15, 23-25, 15-12 victory in Pool A.
"This was not a pretty match," said Team USA head coach Toshi Yoshida. "It was almost a nightmare, although the statistics say we won."
Nancy Metcalf added 19 points, Elisha Thomas posted 15, Logan Tom had 14 and Danielle Scott chipped in with 11 as Team USA won its seventh match in a row to improve to 11-6 on the season.
Metcalf had 14 kills, four blocks and one ace, while Thomas registered eight kills, a match-high four aces and three blocks. Tom added 11 kills and three blocks in the victory.
"The Japanese side played very good defense today," said Scott, who had five kills, three blocks and three aces. "This proves that there will be no easy matches at this championship. All the teams are very good."
As a team, the United States out-blocked Japan, 15-8, and blasted 12 aces to Japan’s four.
"This victory was very important for us because it was the first time this year we have been able to pull together and win a five-game match," said right-side hitter Tayyiba Haneef, who scored one point off the bench as she continues to recover from a sprained ankle.
Megumi Kurihara scored a team-high 17 points on 16 kills and one ace to lead Japan, which fell to 0-2 in pool play. Sachiko Sugiyama scored 14 points on 12 kills, one block and one ace, while Miyuki Takahashi added 11 points on nine kills, one block and one ace.
In other Pool A action, Germany (1-1) handed Cuba its second-straight loss, 3-1, while the Netherlands (2-0) upset defending world champion Italy (1-1) in five sets. In Pool B, Russia (1-1) defeated Thailand (0-2), Brazil (2-0) beat Canada (0-2) and China (2-0) shut down Korea (1-1), all by 3-0 scores.