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Larson and Murphy pace USA over Japan

USA relied on big power to defeat Japan on Wednesday
Nagoya, Japan, November 13, 2013 - The United States defeated Japan in four sets (25-19, 25-19, 19-25, 25-21) in their round-robin match at the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup on Wednesday night.

The result left both sides with 1-1 records as the event moves to Tokyo and resumes play on Friday.

Jordan Larson-Burbach and Kelly Murphy paced the U.S. with 20 points apiece in the triumph. Kristin Hildebrand added 16, including four blocks. Yuki Ishii was the top scorer for Japan with 19 points. Saori Kimura had 13 in the loss.

A day after losing to Olympic champion Brazil in straight sets, the U.S. was all business.

Despite several early mistakes, the U.S. took charge in the first set and had the momentum for the majority of it.

Japan, which beat European champion Russia in its opening match on Tuesday, came out sluggish and had trouble mobilizing its attack.

The U.S. did a good job of neutralizing Japan star Saori Sakoda, who had only three points through the first two sets, one night after she notched 17 against Russia.

The Americans executed well in all facets of the game in the victory. Japan struggled with receiving throughout the evening.

A block by Kristin Hildebrand put the U.S. up 5-4 in the first set. A spike by Kimura moved Japan ahead 6-5. Six of Japan's first seven points came off U.S. errors. The U.S. led 8-7 at the first TTO. Sakoda soared for a spike and Japan was done by one at 11-10. A spike by Yuki Ishii tied it 13-13. Hildebrand's spike mad it 15-13 for the U.S. A high block by Hildebrand sent the U.S. into the first TTO with a 16-13 lead.

The U.S. extended its lead to 19-15 on a spike by Lauren Paolini and Japan called a timeout. Jordan Larson-Burbach elevated for a crosscourt spike and the margin grew to 22-15. Lauren Gibbemeyer's spike gave the U.S. set point at 24-18. Gibbemeyer ended the set 25-19 with another spike. Hildebrand and Larson each have five points in the set.

The U.S. counld not handle an Ishii spike and Japan went ahead 5-4 in the second set. Kimura's spike made it 7-6 for Japan. She then connected on another and Japan was on top 8-7 at the first TTO. An Ishii spike gave Japan a 12-10 edge. Hildebrand's spike pulled the U.S. within one at 13-12. The U.S. then pulled ahead at 15-13 with two more points from Hildebrand and Japan called a timeout. The U.S. led 16-13 at the second TTO.

A Paolini spike put the U.S. up 18-15. The U.S. was in front 20-16 after Japan was unable to handle a spike. Gibbemeyer ended the longest rally of the match with a spike and the U.S. was two points from the set at 23-16. The U.S. made several fine defensive plays to keep plays alive. Japan ran off three straight points and the U.S. called a timeout. Yukino Nagamitsu sent a serve long and the U.S. had set point at 24-19. Kelly Murphy gave the set to the U.S. at 25-19 with a thunderous spike.

Japan came out determined in the third set and grabbed an 8-4 lead at the first TTO after a U.S. spike went long. A Kimura spike put Japan up 10-5 and it looked like they had finally found their footing. A nice return by Miyu Nagaoka gave Japan a 14-9 edge and the U.S. took a timeout. Akari Oumi sent Japan into the second TTO with a 16-9 lead on a spike.

Murphy blasted a spike as the U.S. pulled back within four at 16-12 and Japan called a timeout. A spike by Oumi put the Japan lead back at five ata 19-14. Nagoaka's spike made it 21-14 as Japan moved closer to the set. A U.S. return was wide and Japan was ahead 23-16. A net infraction gave Japan set point at 24-16. The U.S. fought back with three straight points. A block by Nana Iwasaka gave Japan the set 25-19.

A Larson-Burbach spike gave the U.S. a 5-4 lead in the fourth set. Ishii equalized at 6-6 with a spike. Paolini's dink made it 7-6 for the U.S. The Americans led 8-7 at the first TTO. Murphy scored three straight points and the U.S. went up 11-8. Hildebrand made it 13-8 with a spike. Oumi served into the net and the U.S. led 15-12. The U.S. was in front 16-12 at the second TTO.

Kimura's spike brought Japan within three at 17-14 and U.S. coach Karch Kiraly took a timeout. A Larson-Burbach spike made it 19-15. Hildebrand's block put the U.S. up 21-17 and the summit was clearly in sight. When Murphy fired a spike long, Japan was within two at 21-19. Murphy connected with another spike and the U.S. was two points from the win at 23-20. After Oumi could not handle a shot, it was match point for the U.S. It ended with one final spike from Murphy.


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