Tokyo, August 21, 2011 – Japan stunned Russia 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-19) in a Pool L match in the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix at Ariake Colosseum on Sunday. The win against an out-of-sorts Russian team earned Japan a spot in the Final Round in Macau. Russia had already qualified for the finals.
Saori Kimura was the top scorer for Japan with 14 points, while Mizuho Ishida had 13 in just two sets. Russia were led by Ekaterina Gamova with 14 points and Olga Fateeva with 10. Japan outserved Russia 7-2.
2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand
Japan started brightly with a couple of good spikes from captain Erika Araki and Mai Yamaguchi, but two excellent blocks by Maria Borisenko demonstrated the problem the home team faced: one of height. But Yoshie Takeshita proved that it's all in the mind as the 159-cm setter blocked 190-cm Russian attacker Olga Fateeva during an eight-point run behind the serving of Ai Yamamoto. The Russians failed to get three of Yamamoto's serves back and coach Vladimir Kuzyutkin called his players off at 8-12. But Japan were keen to exploit Russia's new-found frailties. Takeshita earned a point with yet another stunning block on Fateeva and Saori Kimura performed a similar feat on Iulia Merkulova to put the home side six points clear at the second technical timeout. Kuzyutkin called another timeout at 14-22 to try and settle his faltering team. A couple of blocks by Fateeva helped bring Russian to within five points at 23-18, prompting Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe to call a timeout. Two dropped points later, he had to call another timeout and the Russians pulled to within two points before Kimura brought up three setpoints. Russia pulled back to 24-23 before Kimura struck a neat crosscourt spike to clinch the set.
Japan again had the edge in the opening stages of the second set with Mizuho Ishida contributing a pair of thunderous kills and making a great block on 202-cm Russian ace Ekaterina Gamova. Japan were three points ahead at the first TTO and four ahead at the second after more errors from Russia and more thumping shots from Ishida. Russia's woes were summed up when Fateeva hit teammate Nataliya Goncharova in the back of the head with a serve. When they failed to get another of Yamamoto's serves back, Kuzyutkin called a timeout. He called another three points later with his team trailing 22-14 and Manabe did likewise when Russia pulled back to 23-18. Kimura then earned Japan six setpoints with a sweet tipover and a block by Araki on Olga Bukreeva put Japan 2-0 up.
Nothing much changed at the start of the third set. Two good blocking points by Yamamoto put Japan 6-3 up and Kimura followed up with two spikes to give Japan a five-point lead at the first TTO, which was soon increased to six after another super block from Yamamoto. Kuzyutkin called a timeout. Japan moved further ahead. Russia reduced the deficit to four points at 15-11, but an errant serve by Merkulova gave Japan a five-point advantage at the second TTO. Takeshita then came up with another stunning point, smashing the ball over the net to put Japan 19-12 ahead and forcing Kuzyutkin to call another timeout. Manabe called a timeout of his own with Russia just four points back at 20-16 and put Japan back on track. Araki earned matchpoint with a spike from a short set by Takeshita and Ishida finished things off with a strong shot through the Russian defence.