Tokyo, Japan, November 11, 2009 – Brazil came from a set down to win a fierce battle against Japan on the second day of the FIVB 2009 Women’s World Grand Champions Cup. The Brazilians lost the first set 26-24, but then edged Japan 25-21, 25-23, 25-21 in a two-hour thriller at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Marianne Steinbrecher was the top
scorer for Brazil with 21 points, closely followed by Sheilla Castro
on 19. Captain Erika Araki top-scored for Japan with 17 points, while
Saori Kimura had 16 points.
Brazil showed they were pumped up for
this clash from the start and cruised into an 8-3 lead at the first
technical timeout. Japan, by contrast, looked nervy, committing three
poor errors. Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe had to call a second
timeout at 11-3 after blocks on Kaori Inoue and Megumi Kurihara. It
stopped the rot and Japan slowly got back into the game. Captain
Yoshie Takeshita scored with a brilliant reverse tipover while Araki
won a duel at the net with Steinbrecher. Mai Yamaguchi and Kimura
then moved their spiking into top gear and Japan drew level at 14
when Ana Tiemi Takagui messed up a set. From there it was
neck-and-neck, high-intensity volleyball. Natalia Pereira proved a
handful for Japan with her devastating spikes, but Kimura was hitting
well and supported by Japan's usual frantic defending. Brazil earned
setpoint on a spike by Castro, but then fluffed her lines by sending
her next spike long. A net error by Brazil handed Japan setpoint at
25-24 and massive confusion among the Brazil attackers gifted Japan
the set, Steinbrecher and Adenizia Silva getting in each other's way.
The start of the second set continued with the same intensity, both teams delivering hefty spikes and defending hard. Japan had an early edge, before Brazil responded, but Kaori Inoue then came up with a big spike, Kimura hit a bomb and Inoue blocked superbly to give Japan the edge at the first technical timeout. But it wasn't to last. Big shots by Castro, Pereira and Steinbrecher put Brazil three points up and forced Manabe to call a timeout. It had the desired effect. Super slugs by Kimura and Yamaguchi (two) restored parity and a wide serve by Silva gave Japan a one-point lead at the second TTO. It was all one-point stuff. Brazil finally opened a gap from 20-20 and cruised to the end of the set behind the power hitting of Paula Pequeno.
The intensity continued into the third set and there was nothing to choose between the two teams. Brazil extended their one-point lead at the first TTO to three at 10-7 and again at the second TTO after two errors by Japan – a long serve by Kurihara and a wide spike by Yuki Shoji. Japan closed the gap through Kurihara and Erika Araki; Brazil opened it up again and extended it to 21-16, forcing Manabe to take two quick timeouts. Japan fought back as Brazil started to wilt. Mai Yamaguchi slammed down a spike and Castro put a shot wide, bringing the scores level at 22. Then Paula took charge with two tough spikes, the second one bringing setpoint. She clinched the set by cleverly dinking the ball over a triple block.
Brazil maintained a slight edge at the start of the fourth set as Japan struggled to deal with their power. The South Americans were three points up at the first TTO and added another before Japan finally began to fight back. Araki started to put on a captain's performance with two good blocks and two spikes. Suddenly Japan were level, then they were ahead, then there was a three-point gap between them and Brazil. However, as always, Brazil dug in. They clawed their way back to 14-14 and were a point ahead at the second TTO. Caroline Gattaz then put the block on Kimura and Yuko Sano failed to deal with a serve by Castro, handing the advantage back to Brazil. At 20-15, it looked all over for Japan, but then it was Brazil's turn to quiver. Castro netted a serve, Inoue made a tipover and the Brazilians missed two serves. But the one-point game then became a four-point game. Kimura smacked down a spike but Castro responded in kind to bring up matchpoint. Kimura delivered again, but a block by Steinbrecher on Yamaguchi ended the absorbing match.