Korea's captain Kim Sa-Nee sets her team up for an opening victory
Tokyo, October 31, 2006: World No. 8 Korea recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory over plucky rookies Costa Rica in the first match of the 2006 FIVB World Championships.
The Koreans beat the 33rd-ranked Costa Ricans 25-16, 25-15, 25-17 to make a perfect start to Pool A and their chase for a top-four finish.
Korea's captain and setter, Kim Sa-Nee, got the 2006 FIVB World Championships under way with her left-handed serve, and the honour of scoring the first point of 208 matches in the women's and men's competitions belonged to Angela Willis as the Costa Rican ace pounced at the net.
Out on Korea's right flank, the angled left-handed spikes of Hwang Youn-Joo were causing problems for the Costa Rican defence, so much so that head coach Braulio Godinez had to call a time-out with his team trailing 5-2.
Captain Verania Willis brought Costa Rica closer, but the Koreans, who are much more experienced on the international stage, led 8-5 at the first technical time-out.
Han Song-Yi stepped up the pace for Korea midway through the first set, both on the block and in attack, and a left-wing winner gave the Asians a seven-point cushion, 16-9, at the second TTO.
The Costa Ricans were struggling to prevent the quicker Koreans from pulling away, but a smash at the net from Paola Ramirez gave them a boost, and Korea had to call a time-out after conceding three straight points to have their lead cut to 19-13.
Teenage prospect Bae Yoo-Na kept Korea moving with some athletic spikes on the left, and Han Song-Yi closed out the first set 25-16 with a powerful winner from the same side.
In the second set, Korea led 8-4 at the first TTO, but Costa Rica looked to be settling down and playing with more rhythm.
Onika Pinnock out-foxed the Korean blockers with a subtle winner on the right, and Silvia Marin inspired her team-mates with some agile digging.
Verania Willis kept battering away for the Central Americans, who rallied to narrow the deficit to just two points at 14-12 and force the Koreans to take a TO and regroup.
A spiking error on the right by Pinnock gave Korea a four-point lead, 16-12, at the second TTO, and Bae pushed her team out to 20-12 to bring the second set closer.
Despite resistance from Karen Cope, the Koreans wrapped up the second set 25-15 with plenty to spare.
In the third set, Costa Rica jumped out to a 4-0 lead, before the Koreans quickly pulled them back in. Some poor serve reception affected Korea's progress, but the left-handed jump serves of Hwang enabled Korea to lead by the narrowest of margins at the first TTO, 8-7.
The Costa Ricans were clearly enjoying themselves, and a Cope winner at the net brought smiles all round; soon they had levelled the set 10-10 to warn Korea they were not finished yet.
Kim Yeon-Koung, one of the best players in Asia, did not start the match as she is recovering from knee surgery in the spring, but joined the action in the second set. Now, in the third, her blocking further frustrated the Costa Ricans, and a Kim piledriver on the left pushed them ahead 16-10 at the second TTO.
From this point, Korea closed out the third set 25-17 and the match 3-0.