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 Match info | Description
In a stellar match Serbia defeats Japan in five sets

Sara Klisura and Maja Savic of Serbia striving for blocking a Japanese quick attack
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, July 7, 2009. Serbia stunned the audience in Nakhon Ratchasima with a stellar performance to come from behind and defeat Japan 3:2 (22-25, 17-25, 25-21, 26-24, ) and live up to the high expectations of the many volleyball fans of their home country.
Today’s second match in the main hall featured two more teams that have not being hiding their high ambitions for this World Championship. The tall and well conditioned Serbian girls – silver medalist at the last European Championships in Rotterdam – faced Asian champion Japan in a game whose distinctive marks were expected to be pretty similar to those of the last match the girls in blue had played on Sunday against Thailand. However, the Japanese are an even more solid team, as they combine the traditional Asian way of playing – solid reception plus quick balls – with some more power than the Thais and tricky services.
The match was extremely tight but Japan set convincingly the pace both in the first and second set: their fast combinations in attack mixed up with a very solid performance in serving caused many troubles to the Serbian receivers and the girls in blue did not manage to work out their usual high balls. Japan’s Futami was the real outstanding player to be seen on the court as she found regularly a way to avoid the Serbian block and the set count rapidly moved to 2:0 for the Asians (25-22, 25-17). 
That captivating battle continued also in the third set: Serbia got a mini-break right before the second technical break, as the block gained real consistency and started stopping the Japanese spikers (17-14). However, Japan bounced back with Horikawa and Serbian coach Marjana Mirosavljevic at that point decided to risk and opt for back-up setter Medarevic to replace captain Radenkovic. That lasted for a single rally, with Japan leveling the score at 19 and Serbia returning to the usual line-up. Sara Klisura fired up another break for the 21-19, but Serbia was still far from being safe as the Japanese had already proved their amazing fighting spirit and technical skills that do well compensate their physical limits. Japan scored twice in a row to even again at 21 and the girls in blue resumed once again to their coach to have a few useful instructions for the most decisive rallies of the match. Coach Mirosavljevic did find the right way as Serbia scored four times in a row to be back in full contention for the final victory.
Japan used to be a major force in volleyball back in the ‘60s and ‘70s but has been struggling over the past decade but these girls might play quite a good role in having that country back to the international elite. Futami, Horikawa & Co. kept momentum also in the fourth set, their reception was absolutely sensational and the spikers were often in a good condition to avoid the Serbian block. However, in front of a packed arena – the local spectators were getting ready for the much awaited match of Thailand against Belgium – Japan missed two match balls and Serbia finally leveled the set count at 2:2 for an exciting final rush.
Japan got off very convincingly (4-1) but Serbia stormed back to level at 4 with massive blocks; as a result of a sort of Asian solidarity, the Thai audience were definitely trying to boost the Japanese to the victory, but Bjelica served extremely well to push her team to a reassuring lead (11-7) and set the tone for the 15-10 that put an end to a thrilling and stunning match.

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