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Brazil defeat Japan 3-0 to win World Grand Prix

Brazil's Sheilla attacks against Saori Kimura of Japan in the final match of the World Grand Prix
Tokyo, Japan, August 24, 2014 – Defending champions Brazil clinched the gold medal in the FIVB World Grand Prix on Sunday after beating Japan 3-0 (25-15, 25-18, 27-25) on the final day of the Finals at Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo. Japan took the silver medal, their first ever medal in the World Grand Prix. Russia earlier earned the bronze medal.

Key points:

Sheilla Castro was the top scorer in the match with 16 points; Yuki Ishii led Japan with 10.

Brazil had 10 blocking points to Japan’s three, and two service points to Japan’s four.

Japan made 29 errors; Brazil made 15.

Brazil finished with a 4-1 record for 13 points; Japan were 4-1 and ended with 12 points.

Japan had never finished in the top three of the World Grand Prix before; their previous best finish was fourth.

Brazil have now won the World Grand Prix 10 times, double that of the next most successful team, USA.

Brazil got an early break when they overturned a line call and found themselves 6-4 up instead of level at 5-5. They also showed Japan the power of their blocks – Fabiana Claudino stopping Miyu Nagaoka and Dani Lins on Yuki Ishii – as they moved into an 8-5 lead at the first technical timeout. Japan found themselves in a four-point hole after Risa Shinnabe sent a shot wide to make the score 10-6 and when they fell 12-8 back after recovering a couple of points, coach Masayoshi Manabe called a timeout. But his side continued to struggle against the might of the Fabiana, Sheilla Castro, Jaqueline Carvalho and Fernanda Rodrigues, and they were five points back at the second TTO. After Nagaoka – previously one of Japan’s strongest weapons – was blocked for the third time, Manabe called a timeout. Fabiana blocked her again on the next point and Manabe replaced her with Mizuho Ishida. He also replaced setter Haruka Miyashita with Hitomi Nakamichi. There wasn’t much the replacements could do; Brazil were playing superb volleyball and Japan were on the receiving end of a strong display from the defending champions. Setpoint came on an error by Nakamichi and Fernanda then spiked Brazil to a 1-0 lead.

Japan’s nerves started to show with two straight errors that put them 5-1 down at the start of the second set and Manabe had to call his players off to settle them down. After Nagaoka was blocked once more, Shinnabe was able to send down a rare kill to the delight of the sold-out arena, but Japan were still four points back at the first TTO. When they fell 11-6 down, Manabe called his players off court again. A spike by captain Saori Kimura seemed to energise Japan and they closed to within two points at 13-11 after a service ace by Kimura and a big shot from Ishida. Brazil coach Ze Roberto called a timeout and Manabe brought on Yukiko Ebata, who spiked Japan to within a point at 14-13 with two good shots. Two kills by Jaqueline saw Japan three points back at the second TTO. Ebata fired off two more good hits, but the gap was seven points at 22-15 and Japan weren’t helped by two wayward serves. A wide shot by Arisa Takada brought setpoint and a long shot by Ebata put Brazil one set away from the title. 

Nagaoka got a confidence boost with a super smash down the middle on the first point of the third set, before trumping that with a block on Fernanda as Japan edged into a 4-2 lead. They were helped by three Brazil errors as they moved into an 8-7 lead at the first TTO. After the break, Thaisa sent a ball long and Kimura hit a sweet cross-court smash for a 10-7 lead, at which point Ze Roberto called a timeout. Brazil hit back with four quick points before Kimura levelled at 11 with a powerful strike. Normal service was resumed when Nagaoka was blocked twice to give Brazil a 16-14 lead at the second TTO, Brazil’s first two-point lead in the set. Fabiana quickly blocked Kimura to put Brazil three points up and Manabe called a timeout. Yamaguchi scored with a push over the net and Manabe brought in Takada, who promptly fired down two aces that levelled the score at 17-17. Manabe called his second timeout after a miss by Ishii allowed Brazil to go two points ahead at 21-19. Brazil moved forward, chased by Japan and the Brazilians had two matchpoints after a good strike by Sheilla. But Ishii responded with two good hits for Japan and it was all square at 24-24. Ishii saved another matchpoint before undoing her good work with a long serve to hand Brazil another matchpoint. Jaqueline then plopped a soft shot over the net and Brazil were champions again.


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