Sunday, 24 June 2018
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Bagnoli pleased with bench strength

Japan coach Tatsuya Ueta will be looking to cut down on errors in Sunday's match against Russia

Tokorozawa, Japan, June 13, 2009 – Russian coach Daniele Bagnoli said he was hoping to learn from his team's first World League match against Japan. The first thing he learned was that it's good to be lucky.

"I think we had some lucky breaks in the first part of the match that helped us win the first and second sets," he said. "That was very, very important."

In short, Russian got the breaks and Japan didn't. Japan pulled to within a point at 22-23 in both the first two sets but couldn't break the powerful Russians. In the third set, Japan folded and, looking ahead to tomorrow's rematch, they will attempt to discover why they collapsed in the final set.

"The start of the match was OK," Japan captain Daisuke Usami said. "Everyone was playing with spirit, but the match went up and down and we made many mistakes, especially on receiving. And these mistakes affected us a lot during the match.

"In the third set, we lost heart and didn't fight. We'll have to study today's result and tomorrow bring our fighting spirit to beat Russia. We should keep trying to the end of the game."

The bright spot for Japan was the spiking of youngsters Kunihiro Shimizu and Tatsuya Fukuzawa. Fukuzawa pulverized the Russian defense throughout the match. Shimizu started out brightly but had a rough third set when he was blocked by the Russian defense. He ended up with 17 successful spikes from 36 attempts, whereas Fukuzawa completed 13 spikes from 22 attempts. Japan could manage only two blocks in the entire match against 14 for Russia, who were led on offense by the 15 spikes of Semen Poltavskiy.

Russia coach Daniele Bagnoli said he was mainly pleased with the performance of his players who came off the bench.

"They immediately produced good situations for the team," he pointed out. "That is one point of strength for this team."

Russia is expected to change its lineup in the second game against Japan on Sunday, so the team's strength in depth could give them an advantage.

"When you try to win with more players, it's good for the team," the Italian coach said.

Japan are also expected to make changes, although coach Tatsuya Ueta wasn't happy with the big change he made on Saturday.

"For four years, Kitajima was our main receiver, but he's injured, so we used Yoneyama. But he wasn't good today, so it was my mistake to use him."

Setter Daisuke Usami will also be looking for redemption after being criticized by his coach for his performance on Saturday.

"We had three new spikers and our setter was meant to provide them with roughly 30 percent of their chances each," Ueta said. "But it didn't go well because the setter didn't pass to the players equally."

"Tomorrow I'll have to learn from those mistakes," Usami added. "They had a negative influence on the team today." If the captain can find Shimizu, Fukuzawa and Yoshihiko Matsumoto, Japan could find that extra element that tips the balance in their favour.

But Russia will always have reserves of players, height and power. If Bagnoli gets the best out of his men, it will be tough for Japan, but Russia also made many errors on Saturday and if Japan can exploit that, they will be in with the chance of a historic victory.


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