The unbeaten Americans put on a sizzling display of team volleyball against Japan, setting well, defending well and attacking well. Destinee Hooker led the Americans with 18 points, while Jordan Larson had 14. Japan were led by Saori Sakoda with 10 points. USA outblocked Japan 7-3 and outserved them 4-2.
2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand
Both teams started the match hot. For Japan, Sakoda was on fire, while Hooker was in imposing form for the Americans. The two teams exchanged points all the way to the first technical timeout, when Japan led 8-7. Japan took a 9-7 lead on a long hit by Larson and were three ahead at 12-9 and 15-12. But the Americans started to defend very well, giving them more chances to attack and they went on a five-point run to lead 17-15, when Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe called his players off court for a talk. Two lost points later, he called for another timeout. Japan's early attacking success had faded against good U.S. defence and they needed to regroup. The Americans' seven-point run ended with a long serve by Logan Tom, but by then they were three points ahead and the damage had been done. A rare defensive lapse by Japan handed setpoint on a plate to the Americans and a soft shot by Jordan Larson put USA one set up.
The Americans continued to have the edge in the second set, with Larson at the forefront of their attack and supported by great setting from Lindsey Berg. Japan had some successes, with Saori Kimura finally managing to land a couple of shots, but they didn't have enough of them against a team on fire. Manabe called timeouts at 11-15 and 11-17 (in addition to the technical timeout at 11-16) as he tried to break the Americans' rhythm. But the Americans weren't missing anything. They were seven points ahead at 19-12 and 10 points ahead at 23-13. Ai Yamamoto plonked a serve into the net for setpoint and Hooker slammed a kill through the Japanese defence to put USA 2-0 up.
Manabe brought on Yukiko Ebata, Maiko Kano and Nana Iwasaka to start the third set and they held their own through 9-9, after which Japan were playing catch-up again. Japan were 16-13 down at the second technical timeout. Kimura gave Japan some hope with a couple of decent blows that helped her team draw to within a point at 16-17 and 17-18, but the U.S. eased ahead again. A blistering service spell by Tom – three of which Japan couldn't return – brought USA to matchpoint at 24-17 and Hooker finished things off with another big blast.