This fantastic battle at the net with Turkey captain Esra Gümüs on the attack typified Sunday's final match in Tokyo. Although Japan won in four sets, the contest was intense throughout
Tokyo, Japan, November 7, 2010 – Wing spiker Yukiko Ebata celebrated her 21st birthday in style by top-scoring for Japan with 24 points as the hosts recovered from Saturday's loss against China with a solid 3-1 (25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 25-13) win over Turkey in the second round of the 2010 FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship.
Sunday's victory at the Yoyogi Gymnasium in Tokyo – Japan's fourth in as many matches against Turkey in all FIVB competitions – keeps Masayosi Manabe's team in clear second place in Pool E with a 4-1 win-loss record, while Turkey drop to 2-3.
Japan's second-best scorer in the tournament, Ebata was their most prolific performer for the second successive game, followed closely by leading scorer Saori Kimura with 22. Meanwhile, the player with the championship's highest points haul, Neslihan Darnel of Turkey, failed to be her side's main scorer for the first time, recording only 14 points. That honour went to captain Esra Gümüs with 19 points.
FIVB Women's World Championship Japan 2010 official page
Japan star Saori helped her team to an early lead with a spike and two beautifully placed soft shots, while Ebata produced a great dig that set up a winner for Kaori Inoue. Inoue herself was blocking well and striving to create chances for her team-mates. Turkey's defence started working well and Darnel landed some big hits from the left. But an overhit shot by Darnel put Japan two points up at the First Technical Timeout (FTT). In the second phase, Turkey moved ahead 14-11, but Inoue came up with two more stupendous blocks, the second of which levelled the scores at 14. Japan had a one-point advantage at the Second Technical Timeout (STT) thanks to an Inoue serve that the Turks could not handle, and they also failed to return her next serve. Two more Turkish errors and a nice tip over by Ai Yamamoto took Japan five points clear at 21-16. Gümüs tried to keep things close with a couple of good spikes, but Inoue brought up set point with a spike and Saori smashed a great hit to make it 1-0 to Japan.
Eda Erdem gave Turkey the initiative in the second set with a block and a spike, and a netted shot by Inoue saw the Turks 5-2 ahead. Ebata and Saori sent down a couple of bombs, but Erdem and Darnel responded in kind for Turkey and Mehmet Bedestenlioglu's side maintained their three-point advantage to the FTT. Japan coach Manabe called a timeout as Japan fell 10-6 behind, after which Saori earned two points with clever tip overs and a spike, before Mai Yamaguchi made a brilliant reaction shot from an Erdem spike and Japan closed to within one point. However, two spikes by Gümüs helped Turkey stretch their lead and they were six points in front at the STT. Japan reacted by introducing captain Erika Araki, yet Darnel extended Turkey's cushion to seven points with another brilliantly disguised soft shot. Good shots by Megumi Kurihara and Saori helped close the gap, but a great block by Erdem on Kurihara yielded set point at 24-19. Japan saved four of those behind strong serving from Kurihara, until at 24-23 her serve hit the net cord and fell backwards, levelling the set score at 1-1.
Japan were back on track at the beginning of the third set, with Kimura making another fine tip over and Araki conjuring a fabulous block on Darnel, which prompted Turkey coach Bedestenlioglu to call a timeout at 6-2 down. Japan took an 8-3 lead on a huge hit by Ebata, who repeated the trick two points later. Ebata then made a massive block on Gümüs to put Japan 12-4 up. Saori helped Japan preserve their advantage to the STT with two good spikes. Erdem replied with two nice hits, only for Ebata to cancel them out. She then traded two more with two from Seda Tokatlioglu before Yamaguchi fired Japan 22-15 in front. Yamamoto brought up set point at 24-18 with a good shot and captain Araki sent Japan 2-1 clear with a blast down the middle of the court.
The opening to the fourth set also went Japan's way: with a huge Araki block on Gümüs and Saori's service ace, the hosts sped 5-0 ahead. Ebata continued her birthday celebrations with four great hits and Japan found themselves 8-1 up at the FTT. Ebata continued her rampage with two more points and at 10-2 Bedestenlioglu used his final timeout of the set. When Turkey failed to deal with a Yamamoto serve, Japan were 14-4 ahead, but three home errors prompted coach Manabe to settle his players down with a timeout. Araki then scored with a spike and Yoshie Takeshita fired Japan 16-7 in front at the STT with a service ace. Three Turkish errors extended Japan's lead to 12 points at 20-8 and it seemed there was little Turkey could do from there as Japan had the wind in their sails. Ebata earned match point when Turkey failed to return a serve and Saori finished things off with a trademark smash.