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Japan beat China to maintain 100 per cent record

Haruka Miyashita reaches for the ball against China on Friday
 Tokyo, Japan, August 22, 2014 – Japan beat China 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-21) on the third day of the FIVB World Grand Prix Finals at Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo on Friday to maintain a 100 per cent record in the competition.

Key points:

Miyu Nagaoka and Saori Kimura were the top scorers for Japan; Zeng Chunlei led China, also with 16 points.

Japan had seven service points to China’s one.

China and Japan are the only two teams to have appeared in all of the competition's 22 seasons. 

China had won 20 of the previous 22 encounters with Japan in the World Grand Prix. Japan are the opponents that China have defeated most often in the World Grand Prix. 

China beat Japan 3-0 on August 9 in Hong Kong; Japan beat China 3-1 on August 17 in Macau. 

The two teams’ only previous World Grand Prix meeting in Tokyo took place exactly five years ago (August 22, 2009). China coasted to a 3-0 victory in that one.
China Belgium 3-1 in their first match before losing 3-0 against defending champions Brazil. 

China have lost four of their last five World Grand Prix matches. 

Japan have won their last seven World Grand Prix matches, equalling the team record in the competition. Japan won seven in a row in 1994 and matched that achievement from 2012 to 2013.

There was little to separate the two teams in the first phase of the match. Li Jing powered home a couple of shots, while Saori Kimura responded for Japan. An error by Liu Xiaotong helped Japan to an 8-6 lead at the first technical timeout and the home team crept further ahead on good hits by Yuki Ishii, Miyu Nagaoka and Risa Shinnabe, as well as a service ace by Kimura that saw the score move to 13-8 and China coach Lang Ping call a timeout. Japan remained five points ahead at the second TTO after some good hits by Ishii. China called a second timeout after some sloppy play put them 19-12 behind and the Chinese responded with some good blocking that saw them close to 20-17 and prompted Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe to call a timeout. Japan stayed focussed and three big smashes by Nagaoka propelled them to setpoint. A spike by Ishii then put Japan 1-0 up.

Setter Haruka Miyashita started off the second set with a super block on Li, Ishii got a lucky service ace and Kana Ono fired off a big hit as Japan moved into a 5-1 lead. China captain Zeng Chunlei hit back with some power shots, but Japan still had a three-point advantage at the first TTO. Lang Ping called a timeout after a poor service reception put Japan 13-9 up, but China failed to deal with Kimura’s next serve and Japan moved five points ahead. Miyashita added another awesome block and a hit by Nagaoka saw Japan four points in front at the second break. China weren’t helped by more reception problems as Japan moved seven points ahead at 21-14. Wang Huimin sent two shots long to bring up setpoint and Nagaoka finished the set off with a spike. 

Lang Ping brought in 19-year-old Yang Fangxu for the third set, giving China two left-handed players. Yang and fellow-lefty Zeng Chunlei turned up the pressure on the Japanese defence and went ahead for the first time in the match at 4-3 when Zeng blocked Kimura. But Japan fought back and a crisp cross-court kill by Shinnabe put Japan 8-7 ahead at the first TTO. Two errors by China saw the score move to 12-9 in Japan’s favour and Lang Ping called a timeout. China tightened up and pulled level at 12 after two shots by Zeng and a tipover by Yang Junjing. But two crafty serves by Kimura put Japan back in the driving seat and they were four points in front at the second TTO. Shinnabe came up with a huge block on Zeng and a terrific kill that brought another China timeout at 18-13. Japan had the edge and, despite a late wobble, clinched their third straight win in the tournament, Nagaoka supplying the final two points.


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