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Fired-up Japan power past Greece with come-from-behind victory to top Pool B

Japan's Haruka Maruo overcomes the taller Greece's blockers with her spike.
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, July 30, 2013 – Talented Japan lived up to the crowds’ expectation as the Asian champions recovered from the first-set down to brush off gallant Greece in thrilling four sets 22-25 25-15 25-16 25-21 in their final Pool B clash of the Girls’ U18 World Championship at the Liptapanlop Hall on Tuesday.

Star spikers Olga Strantzali and the 196cm-tall Anthi Vasilantonaki were the Greece’s forces to help their team win the opening set 25-22. Greece led initially 12-6, thanks to their scintillating blocks and aggressive attacks by Strantzali. The superb duo of Ioanna Gkountimenko and Lamprini Konstantinidou produced solid blockings to win the last two points for Greece in this match.

Miku Benoki and Mizuki Yanagita gave Japan, which finished a disappointing seventh in the previous world meet two years ago in Turkey, a successful comeback. Tactically and technically, they combined well to uncork a barrage of spectacular spikes for the world No.9’s 25-15 25-16 win in the second and third sets.

The fourth set saw Japan come out with a gutsy display. They played every part of the game well to gain every point they made out of their determined attempts. As Japan led commandingly 24-17 to need only one more point to win the set and the match, Greece stormed back to save four match-points before Miku Benoki fired a devastating spike from the wing to end the Greece’s entire challenge. Japan captured the set 25-21 and the match.

Kaori Mabashi led Japan with 17 points, 14 of them from deadly attacks, while Anthi Vasilantonaki topscored Greece with 24 points. She shared 14 points with Olga Strantzali in the spiking skill, but Vasilantonaki led the blocking and serving skills with five points apiece. 

With the success, Japan collected eight points from three wins against one loss to be sure of topping Pool B.

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