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 Match info | Description
Japan beat Serbia in four sets in Pool H

Japan's Mai Yamaguchi and Erika Araki try to block Serbia's Sanja Malagurski
Komaki, Japan, August 12, 2011 – Japan picked up their third win of the 2011 FIVB World Grand Prix on Friday with a 3-1 (25-16, 25-21, 17-25, 25-21) win over Serbia at Park Arena Komaki.

Erika Araki had a captain's performance with 18 points, while teammates Saori Sakoda and Saori Kimura contributed 14 and 13, respectively. Milena Rasic was the top scorer for Serbia with 19 points, followed by Sanja Malagurski and Brizitka Molnar with 14 apiece.

2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix
August 5-28

Japan had the better of the opening exchanges with big guns Kimura and Sakoda both getting some nice shots in. After stretching their lead to five points at 12-7, Serbia coach Zoran Terzic called a timeout, but things still didn't go Serbia's way. A point later, he took off star attacker Malagurski and things got even worse. A mixup in defence from an Erika Araki serve gave Japan a 16-8 lead at the second technical timeout and the only thing preventing Japan from running away with the set was a series of four errant serves by Japanese players. The one-sided set ended with three straight errors from Serbia.

Malagurski was back on form at the start of the second set and Serbia led 8-5 at the first TTO, as Japan struggled to spike well. Two sloppy points later, Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe hauled his players off court. Japan captain Araki tried to inspire her team with a neat crosscourt spike and a brilliant block on Jovana Brakocevic, but the Serbs were still four points ahead at the second TTO. Japan brought on Hitomi Nakamichi and Maiko Kano and used some brilliant defence to get back into the set. They drew level at 17 and went ahead at 20-19, when Terzic called his second timeout within the space of a few minutes. It didn't do any good. When Serbia failed to get an Araki serve back, Japan had setpoint and a wide spike by Brakocevic put Japan 2-0 up.

Serbia were back on form at the start of the third set while Japan struggled with their offense as the Serbian block started working well. Araki landed some good shots for Japan, but the Serbs were started to get into a groove, with Brizitka Molnar and Natasa Krsmanovic hitting some powerful spikes through the increasingly porous Japanese defence. Japan were five points back at the second TTO and starting to go backwards. Milena Rasic ended their misery with a block on Sakoda and Serbia were back in the mix at 1-2.

Serbia still had the edge at the beginning of the fourth set – both on offence and a vastly improved defence – and moved into a 10-5 lead before Molnar planted a serve into the net. Araki came up with a great block on Tijana, planted a neat spike and made a fabulous block on Molnar to drag Japan back into the set. Two jittery errors by Serbia saw Japan move into the lead at 12-11 and suddenly the game was a thriller. Sakoda made the block of the match on Malagurski to put Japan 15-14 up and that became 16-14 when Terzic was handed a yellow card. The scores were level at 16, 18 and 19 when Ai Yamamoto made a great block on Malagurski. Kimura followed up with a spike after some great Japanese defence and two Serbian errors gave Japan a three-point lead at 23-20. More great Japanese defence and a slick spike by Kimura brought up matchpoint. Substitute Mizuho Iwasaka then wrapped things up with a spike that the Serbs couldn't return.

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