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Japan take advantage of Italian defensive woes

Japan's Saori Kimura attempts to make a kill against the Italian blockers
Macau, China, August 26, 2011 – Japan took advantage of Italy’s defensive woes to clinch a straight sets (25-23, 25-23, 25-19) win in Pool B of round robin play at the 2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix finals at the Macau East Asian Games Dome in China in Friday’s opening match

Despite the win Japan will not qualify for the semifinals after picking up just three points from as many matches. Italy finish their finals campaign with no wins.

Japan’s successful plays in the opening of the match were helped by their attacking pattern which concentrated on the right side of the court. The Italians slowly reacted to this Japanese tactic and it was clear that the European champions missed starting libero Paola Cardullo who was left off the team due to a hand injury following Thursday’s match against Brazil. She underwent surgery in a local hospital on Thursday evening and will be sidelined for several weeks.

Gioli’s attacking efforts helped cut down the Japanese lead but the Asian side continued to take advantage of the Italian defence with an attacking spree led by captain Erika Araki to clinch the first set.
Japan matched their attack prowess in the first set with a solid defense in the second as they sniffed out many of Francesca Piccinini’s attacks, allowing them to take the lead. Coach Massimo Barbolini substituted Cristina Barcellini for Piccinini who was becoming more irate with the Japanese wall. Barcellini brought positive vibes to the Italian offense as she picked up two consecutive serving aces and Japan’s offense began to crumble on several attacking errors as Italy to made their own offensive run. However a late fight back from Japan saw them steal the set to take the score to 2-0. 

Italy had no answers in the third as Araki, Saori Kimura and Ai Yamamoto all scored double figures, going on a scoring rampage at the expense of a suffering Italian defense. Japan only allowed a few attacking manoeuvres by the Italians as they covered all attacking points at the net and on the floor as they easily took the match.

Japan will play the classification match for 5th to 6th position while Italy will only play for the classification match for 7th to 8th position on Saturday.


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