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  World Grand Prix 2005
 
 JPN / Japan - Team Composition
 
 
Team manager NISHIDA, Mamoru Mr.
Head coach YANAGIMOTO, Shoichi Mr.
Assistant coach TADA, Mikiyo Mr.
Doctor YAMAGUCHI, Hiroshi Mr.
Therapist / trainer NAKAMURA, Kazumi Ms.
Journalist NISHIMURA, Tomoko Ms.
 
  No. Name Lastname Shirt Name Birthdate Height Weight Spike Block Club
6 Kaoru Sugayama Kaoru 26.12.1978 169 57 293 269 JT Marvelous
7   Makiko Horai Horai 06.01.1979 187 68 312 300 JT Marvelous
8 Ayako Onuma Onuma 17.04.1979 180 72 302 297 Hitachi Sawa Rivale
11   Megumi Itabashi Itabashi 07.06.1973 166 60 281 272 Hitachi Sawa Rivale
12 Ai Yamamoto Ai 24.03.1982 184 68 312 305 JT Marvelous
13   Miki Shimada Miki 29.03.1983 185 70 298 293 Hitachi Sawa Rivale
14 Chie Yoshizawa Chie 09.07.1983 172 66 294 288 JT Marvelous
 C=Captain  L=Libero
Team Profile Coach Profile
It's been a long time between drinks for a Japanese side still trying to reclaim the glory days of 1960's and 70's.

However, since Shoichi Yanagimoto was appointed as head coach in spring, 2003, the Japanese women’s squad has rapidly improved. The team finished 5th at the 2003 World Cup before completing a remarkable achievement at the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Tokyo when Japan qualified for the Olympics. Unfortunately, their cherished desire to win a medal could not be realised; however, Japan showed its ability to the world and players gained invaluable experience and confidence by finishing fifth.

Japan’s squad for the 2005 World Grand Prix, which will be the foundation for the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, has kept a majority of the players from 2004. However, some experienced players e.g. former skipper, Tomoko Yoshihara, and the libero, Ikumi Ogake, were replaced by young promising players.

Apart from the players who experienced the Olympics in Athens i.e. Kana Oyama (187cm, 20) and Miyuki Takahashi (170cm, 25), and in order to be competitive with the physically superior teams, inexperienced but very promising players along the lines of Erika Araki (186cm, 20) were selected.

The new team skipper is the setter Yoshie Takeshita (159cm, 26). Yanagimoto has absolute trust in Takeshita and hopes she will pull all the members together by leading by enthusiasm and commitment.

In order to make the dream of winning a medal in Beijing come true, a supporting team of experts from various fields including former national players i.e. Kumi Nakada, Motoko Obayashi, and Ichiko Sato as assistant coaches has been set up. And it is no surprise that Japan, one of only four teams (the others being Cuba, Russia and China) to have participated in every World Grand Prix tournament, is going to such lengths considering their rich history in the sport.

Olympic Gold in 1964 and 1976, silver in 1968 and 1972 along with World Championship titles in 1962, 1967 and 1974 are a reflection of Japan's power and supremacy 30 years ago but now their national side is desperate to relive those memories.

Something similar to their fifth place finish at the 2003 World Cup would do nicely for the Japanese but their ninth place finish at last year's World Grand Prix would rather be forgotten.

Speed and efficiency have always been traits of the Japanese women's team but trying to utilize these assets is still Yanagimoto’s prime objective.


Overall Standings for Italy
Word Grand Prix Played Total Matches played Win Lost % Wins
12 121 35 86 37.88
Shoichi Yanagimoto Shoichi Yanagimoto, born in Osaka in 1951, was a promising setter even in high school and won two national high school titles. Yanagimoto was selected for Japan’s national squad and achieved remarkable success – 1st at the Asian Games in Iran in 1974, 3rd at the World Championship in Mexico in 1974 and 4th in the Olympics in Montreal in 1976.

Furthermore, for four seasons from 1980 to 1984 Yanagimoto played two roles at New Nippon Steel as the head coach and as a key setter collecting the prize of Best Coach in 1982.

In 1985, Yanagimoto coached the Thai men’s before he was asked to be involved with Nisshin Steel as coach of the women’s team in the V.League in 1997. However, in 2002, due to the long-lasting economic depression their company owner decided to close its Volleyball team, despite being one of the top teams.

In spring in 2003, Yanagimoto was appointed as head coach of the Japanese senior women’s national squad by the JVA. Within eight months he had made a remarkable improvement, seeing Japan finish fifth at the women’s World Cup in November. Despite a disappointing ninth place finish at last year's World Grand Prix, Yanagimoto took Japan to first place at the Olympic Qualification tournament, to qualify for Athens. After the Olympics, having set a high valuation of his ability as a head coach, JVA decided to leave the future of the women’s national team to Yanagimoto.