Saori Sakoda was the star for Japan, picking up 25 attacking points, with namesake Saori Kimura adding 13. For Korea, Kim Yeon-Koung was again the top scorer with 16 points.
2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand
Korea outblocked Japan 10-8, but Japan picked up four service points to Korea’s none.
Japan served well in the match and that, combined with setter Yoshie Takeshita's imaginative play, neutralized the Koreans’ ability to block well. It also broke their defensive formation and led to errors by the Koreans. In addition, Korea’s poor reception caused problems for their setter. Korean ace Kim had her moments, but Japan were superior in service, blocking, and defense.
The second set was a seesaw affair. With Korea’s service reception improving, setter Lee Sook-Ja found it easier to do her job. This also improved Korea’s defense and blocking and made for a more even match. Korea’s right attacker Hwang Youn-Joo lifted her team, but their defensive frailties and blocking management remained poor. At 20-19, Japanese left attacker Sakoda and center attacker Erika Araki turned up the heat and steered Japan to victory.
The third set was close as Japan’s tactical awareness faltered and Korea’s improved. Korea led the game in offense and blocking, and kept things even until late on when Sakoda and Kimura, ably supported by second-string setter Hitomi Nakamichi, scored crucial points to secure the match for Japan.