Japan, July 4, 2009 – Japan goes into its last World League match
against Bulgaria on Sunday knowing that their game has improved
considerably following the two-match loss to Cuba last week, but also
knowing that their form still wasn't good enough to beat Bulgaria, the third-ranked team in Pool C.
they're getting very, very close.
lost 25-23, 23-25, 31-29, 28-26 on Saturday in a match that saw their
defending improve dramatically. But setter and captain Daisuke Usami
had a rough day, getting hit in the face by a rocket spike from
Metodi Ananiev and then taken out of the match by his coach Tatsuya
way the game started was good, but the first set was the most
important and the key to the whole game. But my mistakes caused us to
lose the first set and that changed the balance of the whole match,”
Usami confessed afterwards.
feel very sorry about it because I wasn't able to change the mood of
the team. Now, I have to cool myself down and look to play better
replacement, Yuta Abe, certainly didn't disgrace himself, but Ueta
said he faded as the match wore on and found it hard to combine with
opposite Kunihiro Shimizu.
why we lost our effectiveness,” Ueta stated.
accused his players of “self-destructing” and hinted that he
would be looking at new players as the team prepares for the London
Olympics in 2012. The players themselves are determined to do better.
players aren't satisfied with today's game,” Ueta noted. “We have
to work on our mistakes and raise our level of play.”
from Abe, Ueta spread some of the workload around his squad on
Saturday, using Kazuki Maeda, Takaaki Tomimatsu and Yu Koshikawa with
effect. Tomimatsu, Yuta Yoneyama and Abe each earned two blocking
offense, Tatsuya Fukuzawa led Japan with 17 spikes from 39 attempts,
while World League leading scorer Kunihiro Shimizu weighed in with 17
spikes from 34 attempts. Shimizu's serving improved significantly
from last week's nightmare in Toyama; on Saturday, it was Fukuzawa's
turn to experience serving problems, with many of his serves going
coach Ueta may have been unhappy with his team's performance, but
Bulgaria's Italian coach Silvano Prandi praised the Japan team while
noting that his own team must get better – if only to maintain his
game today was very good for the fans because the result was always
in the balance,” Prandi commented, adding: “But it was not good
for my heart.”
is hope and I hope tomorrow we play better than today.”
main problem for me is always our attack. We have to improve our
attack. Service, defense, blocking is always difficult because
Japan's defense and reception is very good. And Japan were good in
attack – they are fast and difficult to block.”
said his team's winning percentage in attack (44%) was unacceptable,
although he was relatively pleased with his team's 16 blocks.
Nikolov had 40 spike attempts for Bulgaria, but only managed to score
on 17 of them. Matey Kaziyski did better, delivering some gigantic
hits as he collected 14 spikes from 23 attempts, in addition to four
the Bulgarians made a lot of errors. Japan capitalized on many of
them, but they are still finding it difficult to finish opponents
off. Ueta wants them to find their killer instinct and their
performance on Saturday might give them the confidence to attack with
Bulgarians meanwhile need to win to stay in contention in the World
is our main goal,” captain Andrey Zhekov noted. “Only if we win
tomorrow can we play for first place in the group, so for us it's
very important to win.”
he realizes that it won't be easy.
was a very difficult game for us today and very close. We tried to
press Japan from the start, but they played excellent defense. It
was really difficult to play against such a good defense.”
the important thing is we didn't stop; we continued and we're very
happy that we won this game.”
he'll be much happier if he wins tomorrow.