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FIVB World Grand Prix 2006
Match Description
Japan sweep Cuba in straight sets

Soaring Saori: Kimura spikes against Cuba

Tokyo, August 18, 2006: Japan breezed past Cuba 3-0 in the second match of the first day of the World Grand Prix at Ariake Coliseum on Friday night.
 Playing in front of a capacity crowd, Japan came through 29-27, 25-18, 25-17.
 Japan started the first set strongly, with Kana Oyama taking up the initiative on the left flank with three quick winners.
 The Cubans looked to dominate the centre of the net, and replied through Nancy Carrillo and Liana Mesa, before Carrillo added another point with a venomous serve. At 7-7, Miyuki Takahashi edged Japan in front at the first TTO with a powerful winner from the left.
 Despite the occasional spectacular spike from Rosir Calderon, the Cubans were struggling to find any attacking rhythm, and Japan held a three-point cushion at the second TTO when Takahashi came up with another big winner. One particularly impressive point for the home team was when Sachiko Sugiyama ran round setter Yoshie Takeshita to drive the ball into a wide open space in the middle of the Cuban defence.
 Cuba finally caught up at 22-22 when the Japan defence misjudged a floating serve from Yenisey Gonzalez, but the Central Americans could not build on this comeback.
 Japan, inspired by Kana Oyama, squandered four set points and Cuba missed one before a block by Sugiyama on Kenia Carcaces gave the home team the first set 29-27.
 The Cubans were still deflated at the start of the second set, and coach Felipe Calderon called a TO with his team behind 4-1. He needed his second TO of the set with Japan in front 11-7 and Cuba looking lost, with little rhythm around the net.
 Erika Araki maintained Japan's momentum, and a Takahashi blast took Japan to the second TTO ahead by five at 16-11. Araki, lethal at the net, was having a break-out match for Japan as they edged towards the second set, and won it 25-18 on their second attempt with a spike from Athens Olympian Saori Kimura.
 The Cubans produced some sparkling points early in the third set, but led by only one at the first TTO thanks to a sizzler from Calderon, who was adding more consistency to her dynamic game.
 A wild spike from Mesa left Cuba trailing 16-13 at the second TTO, and time was running out for them to gain the upper hand as Japan played with more discipline and made fewer mistakes.
 The Cubans struggled for concentration under Japan's attack, and Takahashi, as usual, came up with some crucial points down the stretch. When Yanelis Santos served long, Japan had the third set 25-17 and the match.