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Japan get 5th position in World Grand Prix after a 3-0 victory over Thailand

Japan's Saori Kimura pushes the ball passed the Thailand defense
Macau, China, August 27, 2011 – Japan obtained a convincing 3-0 victory over Thailand in the 5th to 6th classification match of the 2011 World Grand Prix at the Macau East Asian Games Dome on Saturday.

Saori Sakoda from Japan and Thai player Wilavan Apinyapong contributed 16 points each to their teams, and another two Japanese players with 10-plus points secured Japan’s victory today.

This game was expected as very intensive between two similar style teams, but strong blocking folks led by Japanese captain Erika Araki turned the first set into a one-side game. Along with the sharp spikes from Saori Kimura and undefeatable backcourt defense, Japanese took the first set with a 11-point advantage.

In the second set Thai built a 4-1 lead with 2 aces serve from Malika Kanthong, but Japanese simply seemed unbeatable given their strong blocks and quickly regained the advantage at the first technical timeout. Two Asian teams demonstrated their famous digging, speed and variety of attack tactics, but obviously Japan was on the upper hand and continued their lead to 16-11. Japan’s strong middle blocking continued the dominance and imposed huge pressure on Thai attack, until 4-0 run from Thai brought the set to a 23-23 tie. Nevertheless, Japanese smiled until the end and won the second set at 25-23

Thailand fought back bravely with their tight floor defense and sharp spikes of captain Apinyapong, which led them to a 8-6 lead. Japanese setter Yoshie Takeshita stepped up in time to confuse Thai’s defense by fully utilizing spikers from all possible angles. After a 16-16 tie Japan made a 6-1 run along with 2 important killing blocks from Nana Iwasaka, but it’s offset by a strong come back from Thai and tied the game again at 23-23. Nevertheless, Japanese impressive blocking kept Japan on the right track and obtained 5th position in final round with the straights set victory.

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