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Japan stun Brazil as they record first Final Round win

Japan celebrate their win over Brazil at the Final Round of the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix on Wednesday
Ningbo, China, August 25, 2010 - Defending champions Brazil suffered a shock blow in its bid to win its ninth FIVB World Grand Prix title when they lost 3-2 (13-25, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 15-13) to Japan in Nigbo, China on Wednesday.

Imposing its hard-hitting game, Brazil went into the match aggressively and jumped to an 8-3 lead at the first TTO. The defending World Grand Prix champions then pulled away to 16-8 at the second TTO before taking the set 25-13.

The Japanese raced to a shock 5-1 lead in the second set, forcing Brazil coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes to call for the first timeout. Despite several scintillating spikes from Brazil's Carvalho Jaqueline and Steinbrecher Marianne, Japan was able to hold a 16-13 lead at the second TTO, thanks largely to solid blocking and digging. When 21-16 down, Brazil fought hard to level at 23-23. The Japanese then held their nerves and a spike by Saori Kimura from the right, followed by a solo blocking effort by Yukiko Ebata, gave them the next two points to grab the second set.

The third set was a see-saw affair as neither side was able to lead as many as three points until the second TTO, where Brazil was 16-13 ahead. After the break, the South Americans held onto their advantage with ease before taking the set at 25-18.

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Brazil opened the fourth set with a 3-0 lead before the Japanese erased the deficit and led 8-6 at the first TTO. A string of blocking and setting errors from Brazil then helped Japan to pull away to 15-8. The resilient Brazilians fought hard to narrow the gap to two points (22-20), but Japan responded quickly with two spectacular spikes to close the set.

The competition intensified in the decisive fifth set as both sides traded points until 13-13. Wing spikers Yukiko Ebata and Saori Kimura, who provided most of the ammunition in Japan's attack throughout the match, then capped their stellar show by each hitting a deadly cross-court spike to give the Japanese a hard-fought win.

Brazil will now look to recover against Poland as Japan aim to add to the shock win when they play China on Thursday.

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