November 1, 2006: Japan bounced back from their surprise defeat by
Chinese Taipei on opening night to overwhelm World Championship rookies
Costa Rica 3-0 on Wednesday.
Araki of Japan spikes
The world No. 7 came home 25-9, 25-11,
25-14 to record their first victory of Pool A, while dropping the
33rd-ranked Ticas to 0-2.
There were some early signs that Japan's luck was about to change this night.
the very first point, a spike from Miyuki Takahashi on the left struck
the net cord and rolled along the top of the net before dropping into
the Costa Rica court on the opposite flank. Shortly after, the Costa
Rica back court allowed a serve from Erika Araki to continue on its
way, but it dropped in to give Japan another early boost.
Takahashi had had a quiet night by her own high standards against Chinese Taipei, but she looked to
be back to her sparkling best as Japan romped to the first TTO 8-3.
block by Karen Cope on Saori Kimura gave the Central Americans heart,
but Costa Rica could not get their attack moving and called a TO when
A Kimura cracker took Japan to the second TTO ahead
by nine, and Costa Rica's frustration was highlighted when Paola
Ramirez thought she had scored with a powerful drive at the net, only
for the ball to come back and Japan win the point.
With Takahashi flying down the middle off the sets of Yoshie Takeshita, Japan closed out the set 25-9.
Rica called a TO in the second set after falling behind 5-1, and
Takahashi took Japan to the first TTO at 8-2 with a bullet jump serve
followed by a serve which smashed into the net cord and bobbled over.
Takahashi onslaught continued after the break, and at 11-2 the Ticas
took shelter from the storm with another TO to try and knock the
Japanese ace out of her serving stride.
Ramirez eventually found a way through, but the
Costa Ricans had caught Japan on a bad night -- fired up and determined
to prevent another upset.
Japan's defence was easily able to read
the Costa Rica moves, and libero Kaoru Sugayama had the crowd gasping
with an incredible dig at full stretch.
Japan led 16-5 at the
second TTO and Araki and Makiko Horai maintained the pressure at the
net. The Costa Ricans briefly caught their breath, and Onika Pinnock
and Verania Willis both scored with neat spikes to keep Japan on their
toes. An athletic leap and left-handed spike from Takeshita finished
the second set 25-11.
The Ticas would have been grateful for the
10-minute entertainment break between the second and third sets, and
knew that, with the pressure off, they could try and learn as much as
possible from this Japanese lesson in high-speed, combination
It was going to be a painful lesson, though, as Japan
jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the third set. Takeshita had an array of
options for her sets, as Japan's white whirlwind ripped through the
Central American side. The Ticas, inexperienced at such a high level of
international volleyball, could not live with the pace and slick
movement of the host team.
Under relentless pressure, Costa Rica made too many unforced errors, especially on serve, and Japan finished the job 25-14.