August 20, 2014 was truly an awesome day for an avid Japan Women’s Volleyball Team (WVT) fan like me. It was history in the making. Japan WVT finally forced Russia WVT to their knees after winning three sets to one on the first day of the round robin FIVB World Grand Prix Finals 2014 held in Tokyo, Japan. This win was a first for the Japanese team who has been facing the Russians in the World Grand Prix Finals for five times now.
The set scores are 22-25, 25-20, 25-21 and 25-17 with Japan winning the last three sets of the match. Their Captain, Saori Kimura was awarded player of the game with a total of 17 points to help her team defeat the strong Russian spikers.
Japan definitely showed the good results of teamwork and solid floor defense. The key contributors when it comes to point production are Saori Kimura, Yukiko Ebata, Yuki Ishii and Risa Shinnabe. Their two strong setters, Haruka Miyashita and Hitomi Nakamichi were exceptional as playmakers and really did a good job in stabilizing the team especially during long rallies. Not to forget, their strong defender, the libero Yuko Sano who is the oldest (35 years old) in the lineup but definitely the toughest in defending the court against those kills by the opponent.
This game also showed how a defensive team can outlast an offensive team. Throughout the game, Japan ruled over Russia when it comes to digs even though they were greatly outnumbered in terms of blocks. They also did well in their services managing to pull off a couple of service aces in four sets.
At first, I was a bit doubtful if Japan can win against a very strong offensive team like Russia. But then I remembered Japan just recently won against China which is another strong offensive team. They won and showed another spectacular performance against the Chinese team without Captain Saori Kimura, Yukiko Ebata and Haruka Miyashita in play. Then I realized that yeah, it is indeed possible for Japan to win against yet another strong and willful volleybelles. And they did just that- they won in four sets against Russia.
I was totally glued to my seat while watching this game, heart racing with every serve, set and kill of each team. It was indeed a great experience to watch Japan overcome such obstacle and start the finals round with an emphatic win! I am rooting for them to win this year’s championship. Brazil is another topgallant team with several championships in their records but I know with this performance that Japan is showing, they can pull off another huge win against the world’s No. 1 volleyball team.
Japan Women’s Volleyball Team all the way!! Bless you guys!
(Photos not mine, credits to their rightful owners)