FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship


Japan edge Russia in four sets

Japan played excellent defence in the victory over Russia in four sets on Tuesday

Nagoya, Japan, November 12, 2013 - Yuki Ishii's match-high 22 points led host Japan to a four-set victory 3-1 (25-20, 26-28, 25-16, 26-24) over Russia at the Women's World Grand Champions Cup on Tuesday night.

Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe fielded a team which included five members of the 2012 Olympic bronze medal squad against the European champions.

What started out as a fairly sluggish affair in the first set heated up in the second with some exciting play from both sides.

Japan took the initiative in the third set with some outstanding defense and fine passing as Russia had problems receiving and the final set proved highly entertaining with the Japan staging a late rally to claim the match.

Star spiker Saori Kimura and team-mate 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 established a 5-3 lead in the first set behind some nice serves from Kimura. Russia tied it 6-6 on a hugs spike by Anastasia Shlyakhovaya. Japan led 8-6 at the first technical time out (TTO) after a reception error by Russia. A spike by Risa Shinnabe put Japan ahead 11-9. Kimura's crosscourt spike gave Japan a 14-13 edge. Japan was on top 16-14 at the second TTO.

Kimura blasted a spike out of the TTO to make it 17-14 for Japan. A Sakoda spike and service ace by Kimura made it 19-16 and Russia took a timeout. A reception error by Natalia Dianskaya took it to 20-17. Sakoda made a fine save and Yuki Ishii blasted a spike for 21-17. Malykh's spike drew Russia within 22-20, but she then served into the net and Japan was two points from taking the set 25-20 Japan claimed the set on a pair of nice serves by Akari Oumi. Kimura had seven points in the set, while Malykh tallied eight.

A spike by Victoria Chaplina staked Russia to a 6-2 lead in the second set. Riho Otake delivered consecutive service aces and Japan was within 7-5. Russia led 8-5 at the first TTO on a spike by Iuliia Morozova. A nice block at the net by Sakoda made it 9-7. Malykh hammered a spike and Russia led 11-9. Kimura showed off her skills with a deft dink for 12-10. Liubov Shashkova's spike gave Russia a 15-12 margin. Japan equalised at 15-15 when Russia could not handle an Ishii spike. Russia led 16-15 at the second TTO.

Ishii finished a long rally with a spike and the score was even again at 17-17. Shashkova soared for a crosscourt spike and Russia was ahead 20-18. Malykh spiked to put Russia on the verge of taking the set at 23-19. With Russia up 24-19, Japan saved five set points to level at 24-24. A block by Nana Iwasaka gave Japan set point at 25-24. Japan's run of six straight points ended on a service error by Kimura. A dink by Chaplina gave Russia its fifth set point, but once again Japan rose to the occasion and it was 26-26. Russia finally claimed the set on its sixth try 28-26.

A service ace by Otake gave Japan a 5-2 lead in the third set. Sakoda's block made it 7-2 and she then soared for a spike to put Japan up 8-3 at the first TTO. Russia had trouble receiving and Japan's advantage moved to 10-3. A Kimura block and an unforced error by Russia put Japan on top 13-3. Japan was really in a groove now and a Sakoda block ballooned to lead to 15-3. Japan made some incredible saves and was up 16-3 at the second TTO.

Russia pulled with 18-9 and Japan called a timeout. A block by Evegniya Startseva cut Russia's deficit to seven at 19-12. Shinnabe's spike stopped the Russian charge and made it 20-13. Japan made several unforced errors to open the door for Russia. Kimura's spike put Japan on top 23-16 and Russia called a timeout. A return error gave Japan the set 25-16.

A dink by Ishii gave Japan a 6-4 edge in the fourth set. Russia tied it 7-7 after an extended rally despite a desperation dive by Kimura. Japan took an 8-7 lead into the first TTO. Otake's spike made it 12-9. Russia fought back to level at 14-14, before a Sakoda spike made it 15-14. Japan had a 16-15 edge at the second TTO. 

Russia moved on top 18-17 went Kimura fired a spike wide and a reception error made it 19-17. Japan quickly tied it 19-19, but Russia responded with a spike for 20-19. Sakoda sent a spike wide and Russia was ahead 22-19. A net infraction pulled Japan within one at 23-22 and they tied it 23-23 on a reception error. Japan saved a set point on a sublime spike by Ishii. Russia botched the ensuing reception and Japan clinched the match on a block by Sakoda.

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