Sakoda electrifies Japan against a spirited Dominican squad
Tokyo, Japan, November 16, 2013 - Japan hosted the Dominican Republic at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday. Japan had only lost to the USA going into this match, and they looked very strong in this match as well, taking the match 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 29-27).
Japan was led by the dynamic duo of Saori Kimura and Saori Sakoda, both of whom has 14 points. Brayelin Martinez had 12 points in a losing effort.
The winners held a 7-1 advantage in the blocking department while the defeated side dominated the blocking category 9-5. The Dominicans made 22 unforced errors to 16 by the Japanese.
The first set pitted Japan's finesse against the power of the Dominican Republic, with the home team taking an early edge thanks to solid net play from Kimura and Ishii. Candida Arias bounced a pair of hard spikes to counter, but Japan moved out front 11-6 causing the Dominicans to regroup with a timeout. The home team played confidently, extending to 16-8 on an ace by Iwasaka, and despite a late rush from the Dominicans, closed out a relatively easy first set 25-17, led by five points from Kimura, including two aces.
Japan continued to have good serving in the second, this time from Shinnabe, who put the home side ahead 7-4 with a gorgeous ace. Sakoda got busy in this set, displaying her patented aerial attack throughout, putting Japan ahead 20-16 with a hard drive down the sideline. A drive down the center from the hard hitting Iwasaka gave Japan set point at 24-18, setting the stage for Ishii to take the second set with her ninth point (25-19), to lead all scorers at that point.
Isabel Peña of the Dominican Republic was jittery to start the third set, with a couple of early errors. But she would pull together and push her side out front with a number of scores to jump out 12-8. That seemed to spark Saori Sakoda, who brought a surprising block on Rivera at the net (12-9), and then later another stuff on Martinez to tie at 14-14. But the Dominicans showed incredible spirit, keeping an edge to grab a set point at 24-22. But Kimura responded in true superstar fashion, helping her side fight off four set points to eventually take the set, with three scores late from her, taking the set 29-27, and the match 3-0.