Bulgaria hand Japan first loss in 2013 World Grand Prix
Sendai, Japan, August 16, 2013 – Bulgaria handed Japan their first defeat of the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix and they did it on Japan’s home turf, beating their hosts 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 31-29) at Sendai City Gymnasium on Friday.
It was the first time the two had met in the World Grand Prix and the first time the Bulgarians had defeated Japan in any competition.
Japan now has a win-loss record of 6-1 staying on 17 points, while Bulgaria raised their record to 5-2 and 16 points, greatly improving their chances of reaching the Finals in Sapporo. Japan qualifies automatically for the Finals as hosts.
The host team had a young line-up of players who
took to the court on Friday. And when Japan started out the match cold, coach
Masayoshi Manabe called his players off court after an errant hit by Miyu
Nagaoka took the score to 1-5. Another wayward strike saw Bulgaria move to an
8-2 advantage at the first technical timeout and that was to prove too big a
mountain to climb for Japan, but only just. Manabe called his second timeout at
6-13 following a good block point and a kill by Emiliya Nikolova. The Bulgarian
blocked Nagaoka on the next play and her team were eight points ahead at the second
technical time out.
Neither team played convincing volleyball at the
start of the second set, but the Bulgarians still held their edge. They led 8-6
at the first technical time out before a couple of errors allowed Japan to
level at 10-10. Three big points by Vasileva opened up a three-point gap, but a
nice tipover by Ebata and two aces by Nana Iwasaka saw the teams level again.
Risa Shinnabe came up with four points in the first
phase of the third set, and a big thump down the middle saw Japan 8-5 ahead at
the first technical time out. Abbondanza called a timeout a point later, but
Japan were not firing on all cylinders and allowed Bulgaria to level at 11-11.
Manabe called a timeout at 12-14 to try and settle his players but his team
dropped the next two points.
2013 World Grand Prix Tournament