FIVB - Women's Volleyball World Cup 2011

MATCH INFO

Speedy Japan defence withstands German onslaught


Germany had Japan's defence scrambling on Thursday but the hosts came out on top

Tokyo, Japan, November 17, 2011 - Germany faced hometown Japan on Thursday night in a contest between two teams with identical 6-3 records, but very different styles of play. In a battle of power versus finesse, the latter won out in a brilliant match as Japan took the honours 3-2 (25-20, 23-25, 25-27, 25-17, 15-12).

Leading Japan in scoring on the day was Saori Kimura with 26, and Yukiko Ebata just behind with 25. For Germany, Angelina Grün delivered a hard-hitting 25 as well.

In Wednesday’s press conference Japan said that they would have to start well against Germany, and today they did just that as three points from Saori (of her nine in the set) put them up 8-4. Cheered on by a packed house at Yoyogi Stadium, Japan kept its lead as Ebata got rolling mid set with consecutive smashes that found the mark. That started a run where Japan took seven of nine points to go up 19-13, capped by an incredible Erika Araki block on the explosive Margareta Kozuch. Grün brought Germany back within three with two devastating drives, but Ebata’s precision trumped Grün’s power in the end, picking an open spot with a spike to help Japan take the first set 25-20.

But Germany was too strong to stay down for long, as Grün dropped a spike and an ace back-to-back early, and then Kozuch topped that with a spike and two aces making it 9-5, and prompting Japan’s coach Masayoshi Manabe to call time. Japan responded led by half-pint hero Yoshie Takeshita (159cm tall) who climbed the ladder for a block on a towering Maren Brinker, really embodying the David v Goliath feel that this match developed. Ebata would deliver air support flying in for a spike to tie. But would edge ahead again, holding a slim lead until late when they moved out 23-19. Takeshita performed another miracle with a diving dig on a Kozuch rocket, the power of which sent her tumbling multiple times while Ebata spiked them back within one. But Grün muscled it out for Germany taking it 25-23, the most important of her six points in the set.

In the third Japan started shaky with multiple erros allowing Kozuch and Grün to power the German’s up 14-9. But Japan scored five straight to tie, four from Saori who had Corina Ssuschke-Voigt visibly fuming after stuffing her twice for scores. The fans were dazzled as Germany forced Japan to defend at their best, with Risa Shinnabe even straying over to the Germany side to retrieve a stray get, setting up Saori for the put-away. Japan managed to edge out 22-20 on another Saori dart that found a corner, but Grün would overpower the home side — though just barely — needing three set points to close 27-25, going up two sets to one.

The sides exchanged points to start the fourth with a wonderful spike by Risa edging Japan ahead 10-7. Araki and Ebata threw down three points each to extend to push way ahead 22-14 on an eight-two run that included yet another miracle play as Yuko Sano dove fully extended to get a hand under a ball. Risa stepped up soon after with a flying tip that gave them set point, and then threw down an ace to close, 25-17, tying two sets a piece.

Risa scored four for Japan early in the tie-break to help her side out 6-4 but Germany clawed back and would go up 9-7 on a Ssuschke-Voigt block on Saori. Japan's hero came back with a spike after Takeshita picked up a ball off her chest that very nearly put a hole in her. As the crowd cheered Japan on, two Risa spikes and a Saori ace gave them match point. Ebata would drive a spike down the line, and though the referee hesitated, it was eventually called in, giving the one of the best matches of this tournament to Japan.


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