Tokyo, Japan, October 30, 2010 - Costa Rica rebounded from a first-day loss to Serbia with a straight-sets (25-18, 25-21, 25-10) win over Algeria in Saturday's opening Pool A match at Yoyogi Stadium. It was the first meeting between the two countries in an FIVB competition and produced Algeria's second loss of the tournament from as many matches. The north African side must now regroup ahead of a tough-looking fixture against hosts Japan on Sunday.
Costa Rica's Angela Willis led her team's scoring with 15 points, supported by younger sister and captain Verania Willis who notched 13. Algeria's Faiza Tsabet was the top scorer for her team for the second straight day chalking up 11 points.
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Algeria's Safia Boukhima started off well with a drive down the middle to make it 6-4 for the African champions. She would falter later with two errant attacks that gave Costa Rica the lead, but then a solid serve from the 19-year-old, which defender Karen Cope could not handle, kept Algeria ahead at 8-7 at the First Technical Timeout (FTT). Just as she did yesterday, Tsabet continued to pound away at the net for Algeria, including an incredible spike that hit two Costa Rica defenders to tie the set at 11. Spikes from Mariela Quesada and Dionisia Thompson gave Costa Rica a 16-14 lead, before a flurry of unforced errors by Tsabet and Zohra Bensalem effectively gave Braulio Godinez's side the set at 23-17. Yet another error by Boukhima confirmed the inevitable.
The second set started even, but Algeria seemed to shake off the first-set cobwebs edging ahead 7-5 with Tassadit Aissou – or Sassa as her shirt has it – and Lydia Oulmou targeting Quesada who had difficulty returning. Bensalem was a one-woman wrecking crew mid-set, with three successful spikes putting her team on top 12-9. Costa Rica would catch up, though, and eventually took the lead when Angela Willis finally put a block on Bensalem at the net to win a point. Bensalem might have still been rattled as her drive on the following point sailed wide, giving Costa Rica an 18-16 edge. They kept the momentum going with more trademark power-shots at the net from Verania Willis and some strong serving by Quesada. A stunning Cope block on Algeria's Tsabet gave the Costa Ricans set-point and it summed up the way unforced errors were plaguing Algeria that a net serve by their captain, Narimene Madani, handed the set to the opposition, 25-21.
Costa Rica took charge of the third set early on by opening an 8-1 lead. Angela Willis repeatedly shut down Boukhima at the net, causing Algeria coach Ikhedji Mouloud to make a change, pulling the spiker out. Yet, when another Costa Rican block made it 14-3, he was forced to put his star spiker back in, visibly perplexed by the impressive opposition defence. Algeria were simply overpowered in the final set, and Angela Willis fittingly provided set-point with a block, followed up by a laser spike by sister Verania to wrap up a convincing victory.