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Press releases
 
Japan come back from the dead to win epic tie-break
 

 Okayama, Japan, September 1, 2006: Japan saved two match points before beating Dominican Republic 3-2 in a pulsating five-setter at Momotaro Arena on Friday night. Japan's victory, by 25-16, 18-25, 25-16, 15-25, 16-14, improved their win-loss record to 5-2, while their opponents slipped to 2-5.
 Japan started with a stirring resolve, and when they scored the first four points of the match, the shell-shocked visitors were forced to call a TO.
 The inspirational Miyuki Takahashi led the way with the first point, appearing from nowhere to score down the middle, and fellow Athens Olympian Kana Oyama was quick to back her up, scoring with a powerful spike and then a block before Takahashi served an ace.
 Nuris Arias settled the nerves of the Dominican Republic with two good points on the left, but Japan reached the first TTO ahead by five, 8-3, when captain Cosiri Rodriguez served into the net.
 Cindy Rondon, a powerful jump-server, had the fans gasping when she leapt and spiked athletically at the net in the blink of an eye, but a well-crafted winner from Sachiko Sugiyama took Japan to the second TTO with a seven-point cushion, 16-9.
 When more slick attacking play from Sugiyama and Takahashi moved Japan ahead 19-11, visiting coach Miguelo needed his second TO to try and stop Japan running away with the first set.
 With the crowd firmly behind local favourite Erika Araki, the player responded with a fine block on the dangerous Annerys Vargas before finishing the opening frame 25-16 with a spike after Oyama had brought up set point.
 If Japan thought the visitors would wilt under the onslaught and in front of a full house of 6,500, they were very wrong.
 The 17-year-old Rondon led the reply with some blistering serves, one of which the experienced Takahashi never saw as it whistled past her, and an imperious winner from Vargas at the net gave the Dominican Republic a four-point lead, 8-4, at the first TTO.
 Japan had clearly lost their momentum, and when Araki and Oyama both put spikes into the net, head coach Shoichi Yanagimoto called a TO with his team in trouble, down 12-8.
 Rodriguez drove her team forward, Arias was still a threat on the left, and they led 16-11 at the second TTO, looking confident and full of ideas.
 An uncharacteristic miss by Sugiyama from close quarters prompted a second Japan TO as they started to lose touch, behind 18-11 and needing a lift, but the fireball Milagros Cabral was proving too hot to handle and took control of the attack.
 It was only a matter of time before the Dominican Republic closed out the set, and Vargas struck like a lightning flash to make it 25-18 and level the match 1-1.
 Oyama boosted Japan at the start of the third set with two straight block points, and three Sugiyama winners carried Japan to the first TTO ahead 8-5. The tide had turned again, and now it was the Dominican Republic who had lost their rhythm and called a TO, 11-6 in arrears.
 Araki came more into the game, whereas Rondon became erratic and was replaced, and Japan were in control at the second TTO, ahead 16-10.
 A Takahashi ace through a non-existent defence gave Japan more confidence, and Oyama ended the third set 25-16.
 Rondon was back on court for the fourth set, and her presence rejuvenated the visitors. Arias responded with a series of crisp winners to give the Dominican Republic a three-point cushion, 8-5, at the first TTO. Trailing 11-6, Japan needed a TO as the flow of the match turned again, and another TO when they lost the next two points to fall behind by seven.
 Takahashi was having big problems breaking through the tall Dominican Republic block, and the home team were in all sorts of trouble at the second TTO, down 16-7. Vargas made sure there would be no comeback by Japan, who lost the fourth 25-15.
 With Takahashi losing her blockers, and Oyama relishing the pressure of the tie-break, Japan led 6-2 and 8-6 at the turnaround.
 The players had difficulty communicating due to the noise of the crowd, and the volume increased when Saori Kimura swooped through the middle, 9-7 Japan.
 Cabral responded with another sizzling winner, and a block on Oyama brought the score level 10-10.
 Dominican Republic missed two match points from 14-12 before Kimura won it 16-14 for Japan amidst incredible scenes.
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

 

  
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