Osaka, Japan, July 7, 2013 – Canada defeated Japan in five sets (25-23, 23-25, 25-27, 25-18, 15-7) in their FIVB World League match at Osaka Municipal Gymnasium on Sunday.
The victory clinched a spot in the World League finals in Mar del Plata, Argentina, later this month for the Canadians. Canada (8-2) could have lost in five sets to Japan (3-7) and still overtaken the Netherlands, which fell to Finland on Saturday night, for the top spot in Group C and a trip to Argentina.
After narrowly taking the first set, Canada struggled while dropping the next two before regaining their footing. Japan passed and defended well, and had some inspiring play at times, but it was not enough.
The first set was tightly contested at the outset, with Canada leading 8-7 at the first technical timeout after Yusuke Ishijima sent a spike long. A nice block by Kota Yamamura made it 12-11 in favor of Canada. The Canadians pulled ahead 15-12 on a return error and Japan called a timeout.
Soonias was the center of the Canadian attack, with plays repeatedly being run for him to finish with a soaring spike. He made it 20-15 with a blast as Canada began to pull away with the set. Japan surged back to within 22-20, but Perrin's perfectly placed spike halted the run.
A point by Dustin Schneider lead Canada to set point at 24-22. Japan fought back to 24-23 and Canada took a timeout. Canada took the set 25-23 on a spike by Perrin.
Japan moved out to a 6-4 lead in the second set behind some strong blocking defense. Japan was up 8-7 at the first TTO. A nice block by Verhoeff put Canada up 14-13, but Japan moved back ahead 15-14 on a service ace by Koshikawa and led 16-15 at the second TTO.
A service ace by Ishijima moved Japan within two points of the set at 23-20. Ishijima spiked to give Japan set point at 24-22 and the host closed it out 25-23 on a spike.
Japan retained the momentum early in the third set, establishing an 8-6 lead at the first TTO. Japan boosted its advantage to 13-9 after an unforced error by Canada, and a Koshikawa spike sent Japan into the second TTO with a 16-14 lead. A service ace by Perrin pulled Canada even at 18-18. Canada finally moved ahead 21-20 on a spike by Justin Duff.
Japan regained the lead 23-22 with a spike, but Canada tied it again 24-24 on another spike by Duff as the drama built. Back and forth it went before Koshikawa gave Japan the set with a thundering spike.
Japan led 8-7 at the first TTO in the fourth set. A Soonias spike put Canada on top 10-9, and a block by Verhoeff saw Canada open up a four-point advantage at 18-14 and Japan called a timeout to try and regroup. A service error by Yuta Yoneyama made it 22-17 for Canada they locked it up 25-18 on a block by Joshua Howatson.
Canada established a 6-3 lead in the final set. A reception error by libero Takeshi Nagano gave Canada a 12-7 margin, and they completed the triumph 15-7 on a block by Verhoeff.
Canada beat Japan in four sets on Saturday in the opener of the two-match series.
Dallas Soonias was the match's top scorer, with 24 points for Canada. John Gordon Perrin and Rudy Verhoeff added 18 each in the win. Tatsuya Fuzukawa topped Japan with 21 points, while Yu Koshikawa contributed 20 in the losing effort.
YouTube: FIVB Video
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