Serbia, who ended USA's unbeaten run in Komaki last week, put on another impressive performance, serving well, defending superbly and getting another very good game from setter Maja Ognjenovic. Japan, on the other hand, were always playing catchup.
2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand
Serbia were led by Jovana Brakocevic with 21 points, followed by Brizitka Molnar with 14. Japan's top scorers were Saori Kimura and Yukiko Ebata with 10 apiece. Serbia outblocked Japan 11-2.
There were plenty of errors from both sides in the opening phase of the match and, as a result, nothing to choose between the two teams. There were no more than two points in it to the second technical timeout, but around this time Molnar started to find her rhythm with some scintillating spikes. Two Japanese errors saw the home team drop three points back at 17-14, prompting coach Masayoshi Manabe to call a timeout. But a service ace by Natasa Krsmanovic stretched Serbia's lead to four points. Kimura delivered a couple of big hits to give Japan some hope, but Brakocevic brought up setpoint with a spike. Molnar then hit a shot to put Serbia 1-0 up.
Manabe brought on Ebata and Maiko Kano to start the second set, taking off Saori Sakoda and Mai Yamaguchi. Once again, there was nothing between the two teams in the opening stages, but when Milena Rasic blocked Ebata, Serbia found themselves three points ahead at 11-8. Japan fought hard, but Brakocevic responded for the Serbians, who had a two-point lead at the second TTO. But two blows by Ebata saw the teams level at 18-18 before Japan again went off the boil and Serbia restored their three-point advantage. Back came Japan through Kimura and they were level again at 22. But nice shots by Molnar and Sanja Malagurski gave Serbia two setpoints. A shot by Brakocevic was then blocked wide and Serbia were two sets ahead.
Brakocevic kept up her attacking pace at the start of the third set and Serbia took a 3-0 lead, but Japan started to defend better and some spellbinding work by Japan setter Yoshie Takeshita set up a spike for Ai Yamamoto that drew the teams level at 7-7. Serbia coach Zoran Terzic hauled his players off court at 8-10 and Manabe did likewise at 10-12. Japan pulled to within a point, but more good shots by Molnar kept her team in control and a wide spike by Kano put Serbia four points up at the second TTO. Ebata finally started to rediscover her form, but it was too late for Japan. A block on Ebata brought up matchpoint and a quick shot by Rasic ended the match.