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 Match info | Description
Russia defeats Japan 3-0

Japan's Kunihiro Shimizu spikes against Russia on Saturday

Tokorozawa, Japan, June 13, 2009 – Russia needed to use all their power and height to overcome a determined Japan team 25-22, 25-23, 25-16 in their opening World League match at Tokorozawa Municipal Gymnasium on Saturday.

Japan matched the Russians over the first two sets but needed a little extra – or a little more luck – to beat them. They pulled the scores to 22-23 in both sets, but could climb no higher against the powerful Russians. Japan barely showed up for the third set.

But Japan coach Tatsuya Ueta will be pleased with the performance of 22-year-old Tatsuya Fukuzawa, who spiked superbly throughout the match.

Russia's Yury Berezhko, Semen Poltavskiy and Alexey Cheremisin all contributed well for Russia, but coach Daniele Bagnoli will have noticed the errors that crept into their game in the third set.

Japan showed early on that they were not going to be overwhelmed by the bigger, more powerful Russians, but the Russians still showed off their impressive power. In the first set, the Japanese stayed level at 5-5 when a good spike by Berezhko and a block by captain Alexey Kazakov put the Russians two points up. They stretched this to four points after some sloppy Japanese play, but a brilliant short, quick set by Daisuke Usami and a stunning quickfire spike by Fukuzawa set the Japanese back on track. Kunihiro Shimizu followed up with the first service ace of the match and Fukuzawa came up with another brilliant spike as Japan pulled level at 13 all. Japan then tracked Russia to 16-16, but a long serve by Shiro Furuta and a thumping serve by Poltavskiy handed the momentum back to Russia and they pulled away to 23-19 aided by two more convincing spikes by Berezhko. Another Fukuzawa thump brought Japan back into the game before Shimizu added two points with a winning spike, followed by a half-block and another spike that closed the scores to 23-22. But Poltavskiy found himself unmarked for a spike that brought setpoint, which was converted when Evgeny Sivozhelez blocked Fukuzawa.

Russia took an early lead in the second set, but Shimizu settled his team with a massive spike. Usami then used quick, short passes to set up winners for Yoshihiko Matsumoto that brought the scores to 4-4. Poltavskiy used a spike and a soft lob to put Russia two points up at the first technical timeout and they stretched their lead to 10-7 with a spike by Kazakov. Japan levelled again thanks to a great spike by Fukuzawa and a receiving error by Alexander Volkov that set up a first-time spike by Yoshihito Matsumoto. Russia edged ahead but couldn't shake off the Japanese. Big hits by Shimizu and Fukuzawa brought the scores level at 14-14 and at 15-15, and then another powerful effort by Shimizu put Japan in the lead for the first time in the match. But Russia held on and the two teams found themselves level at 22-22. The Russians blocked Shimizu to go 23-22 up and Alexey Cheremisin's rocket serve gave his team a set point. Japan clawed a point back but Kazakov blocked Shimizu to clinch the set.

Things didn't get any better for Japan at the start of the third set. Vladimir Melnik twice blocked Shimizu and added a big spike as Russia took an 8-3 lead at the first TTO. Japan's Yuta Yoneyama managed one good spike but three of Japan's first four points came from service errors. Russia were hardly on top form, but Japan's game had deserted them. Russia pulled away to 14-8 before Japan staged a rally. Shimizu finally landed a decent spike and this was followed by a superb block from Matsumoto and a wide spike by Cheremisin, narrowing the gap to three points at 14-11. Japan tried to bring Shimizu into the game, but the Russians were improving their blocking and the Japanese ace was finding it hard to break through the Russian wall. Fukuzawa wasn't having that problem and continued to give Japan hope with his big spikes, but the Russians were in the ascendancy. A long serve by Shimizu handed them matchpoint and a spike by Cheremisin finished Japan off.


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