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Press release

Japan Coach Sato: It's nice to get that first win under our belts

Yoshifumi Suzuki was one of many Japan players attacking well vs Finland

 Komaki, Japan, June 15, 2013 – In his first home game as Japan’s head coach, Gary Sato was delighted to pick up a hard-fought 3–1 (25–17, 25–18, 24–26, 25–18) win over Finland. Both Finland’s coach Tuomas Sammelvuo and their captain Antti Siltala were very classy after the defeat, saying that Japan brought the kind of attitude that they could not muster on the day.

Japan coach Gary Sato: It was a very exciting match for our staff and players and for the fans. I’m very pleased that the players responded in a very favourable fashion. We were able to get on top of Finland in the beginning and were able to maintain that pressure. It’s nice to get that first win under our belts, and with the short amount of time that we have been together, I’m very pleased with our progress. The support from the top down has been fantastic, and knowing that’s how it was going to be, I’ve been confident that we could build something great for the future.

On using Kondoh as setter: I went with Kondoh from the beginning, I’ve seen him play before and felt he had a good grasp of the game. I also went with a younger setter, Imamura, who I watched play in the V-League. He did a great job with his club team, and I thought it would be great to have a younger setter to develop.

Compared with the last four matches, what was different today: The difference is just that the members are getting more familiar with what we’re trying to do. I’m getting more familiar with them, and with my staff. And the things we’re teaching and practicing, I think many of the players and staff are seeing the benefit, and a victory [like this] helps build confidence in the things that we’re trying to do.

On improving communication during matches: I’m trying to promote that the players can recognize certain circumstances and situations, and communicate to each other how they need to play in those moments. So before during and after every play, I want them to have quick conversations about what they’re going to do, so they can go into that play with 100% confidence. We want to stay aggressive on the attack as much as possible, but yet, not be foolish.

Japan captain Kota Yamamura: I’m happy to pick up our first win. Compared with the last four matches, we managed to get our offense going in transition. That was the biggest factor in our victory today, I think. We made fewer service errors, and we were hitting high balls well. These are the things that Gary has told us, and today’s game was a big achievement for us, after learning from him.

Japan player Daisuke Yako: I’ve played in the last four matches, and I didn’t think I was playing my best. The people around me encouraged me to play more decisively, and really go after points more. Today, I think I played my own style, thanks to support from my teammates and the staff.

Japan player Tatsuya Fukuzawa: The best thing about today was our quick start. We have had many matches where we didn’t start well. But today we picked up points early and that gave us good momentum for the rest of the match.

Finland captain Antti Siltala: I’m really disappointed of course. Our preparation for this match was not at the level we expected. We came to the match like we didn’t want to play volleyball. We should learn from Japan, how they came to fight. Japan lost all their matches and they came for a fight, they really played well. We should have been ready but we weren’t. They deserved to win.

Finland coach Tuomas Sammelvuo: There was a huge difference in attitude today. Japan was ready; we were not. They played well technically, they used our block, spiking wisely, tipping to our court, using their heads. It was a nice game from them. I have a lot to think about for my team, to try to figure out why we played this kind of game.

On the emotional play of his captain: It’s exactly the attitude the whole team should have, I don’t have words for how in a great competition like this, how we could come at about 50 per cent. Of course there are technical reasons, but first it’s attitude. Attitude is everything. Obviously we have a lot of work to do.

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