Tokyo, Japan, December 2, 2007: After an early struggle, World No. 1 Brazil put Japan in their place 3-1 in the last match of the World Cup at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Sunday night.
The reigning Olympic and world champions recovered from losing the first set to emerge victorious 23-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-18 and defend their World Cup title with a 10-1 record.
Japan, playing before a crowd of 10,000, dropped to 3-8 but emerged from their last match with a lot of credit and pride in tact. They were also leading the fourth set 7-2, but the seven points were wiped out due to a technicality on the line-up rotation.
Japan defended with all their strength and agility from the first whistle, but it was still not enough to prevent Brazil going into the first TTO ahead by two, 8-6.
Although Yamamoto had enjoyed early success on the Japan right and Koshikawa on the opposite flank, the Brazilian block quickly got to work, as did southpaw Andre on the right wing and Giba with his trademark spikes from the back court.
When Matsumoto blocked Giba, Japan had a two-point advantage at 12-10 and were playing at a pace that the Brazilians were struggling to match. Setter Usami rose and spiked a loose ball at the net for 14-12, but Japan needed a TO on falling behind 15-14 to a Giba ace. Japan recovered to lead 16-15 at the first TTO, Yamamura blocking Dante down the middle and watching the ball drop behind the Brazilian.
Usami greeted Dante with another block on the restart, leaving Brazil needing to lift their game to take control of the first set.
Ishijima maintained the pressure with a right-wing spike and Brazil needed a TO down 20-17 after a close call on an Anderson play up the left. There was no doubt about the next point, though, as Ishijima served a bullet that whistled past the Brazilians for 21-17.
Yamamura blocked Dante again on the restart and the Brazilians were clearly feeling the strain. Giba tried to settle them with a flying back court winner for 22-18, and Japan needed a TO with their lead down to two at 23-21.
On the resumption, Koshikawa brought up three set points at 24-21, and they hung on for 25-23 with a long serve from Marcelinho.
Middle blocker Yamamura had a game-high seven points in the first set, two more than Brazil's leading scorer Rodrigao -- a tell-tale sign that the match was being slugged out down the middle and that Japan were more than holding their own.
Matsumoto built on this success by scoring early points in the second set, before Brazil managed to open a two-point gap at the first TTO, 8-6, after tenacious work on the left by Giba.
Dante had the Brazilian fans in raptures with a spiralling winner from the left, and then repeated the treatment for 11-9 as the world champions tried to accelerate.
Leading 16-12 at the second TTO, Brazil had the foundations in place to win the second set. Yamamoto found a second wind on the Japan right, though, and when Giba spiked wide from the right, Brazil took a TO clinging to a one-point lead, 16-15.
A Koshikawa bullet was too strong for Dante, 17-17, but Andre replied on the right for 19-17 Brazil and a Japan TO. Gustavo helped Brazil win two quick points for 21-17, forcing Japan off again, and Andre pounded another winner on the right for 22-19. Substitute Samuel moved Brazil closer to their target, and Gustavo blocked Koshikawa for set point at 24-20. Gustavo then spiked for 25-21, 1-1 and a 10-minute entertainment break.
The attack and block of Andre gave Brazil a flying start to the third set, and Japan called a TO down 4-1. Dante turned the screw on the left, Andre served a monster ace and Gustavo swatted a winner down the middle for 8-4.
As Japan threatened a fightback, Rodrigao pounded a massive winner at Koshikawa and Dante swooped from the back court to maintain a comfortable lead.
Tomimatsu freshened up Japan's play at the centre, but there was nothing the Japanese could do to stop Dante as the Brazilian star cut loose on the left flank, shooting his team into a 16-12 lead at the second TTO.
Japan had not finished yet, though, as Yamamoto stroked a languid winner and Koshikawa smashed home a loose ball following an Ishijima rocket serve.
When the lead grew to 20-15, Japan called a TO, but Brazil returned for Marcelinho to extend their advantage with a well-placed and perfectly executed dipping serve.
Giba and Andre were in no mood to hang around, and powered Brazil to the third set 25-19.
Japan started the fourth set with two blistering aces from Koshikawa for 4-1 and a Brazil TO, and crashing spikes from Ishijima and Yamamoto for 7-1 to leave the Brazilians in a daze.
At 7-2, the match was held up for several minutes as the teams and officials checked Japan's line-up sheet with the actual players on court. When it was discovered that a player on court was not listed on the sheet at the start of the set, the score was changed to 2-0 Brazil, bringing jeers and whistles from the home crowd and cheers and flag-waving from the Brazilian supporters. Now trailing 4-0, Japan called a TO.
Gustavo brought up the first TTO at 8-2, but careless mistakes by a weary-looking Brazil enabled Japan to close the gap to 9-6. Rodrigao blocked Koshikawa to stop the rot.
Leading 16-9 at the second TTO, Brazil advanced with an Andre special and an easy block on Koshikawa by Dante. When Koshikawa spiked into the net for 22-13, Brazil were almost home. Match point came at 24-18, and a gentle Rodrigao ace ended it 25-18.