Japanese players overwhelmed with joy winning the first match in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, China, July 22, 2017 – Japan stunned Serbia 3-2 (21-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-13) in an epic five-setter match on the second day of Group 1 Pool G of FIVB World Grand Prix.
Serbia took the early 6-2 lead in the first set by Brankica Mihajlovic’s striking serves and Sanja Malagurski’s powerful spikes, forcing Japan to call a time-out. Japan showed potent attacks to fight back, yet Japan was not able to penetrate Serbia’s blockade. Serbia took the strong lead to 12-8, nonetheless, they committed several unforceful errors. Japan was able to narrow the gap at the second technical time-out. Serbia regained their momentum to seal the set 25-21.
The second set began with a see-saw situation at the first five points but Serbia stayed competitive with offence and led the first technical time-out. Tributes to Brankica Mihajlovic’s diversified attacks from wing and middle, Serbia comfortably took the dominance at the second technical time-out 16-9. Although Japan performed aggressive attacks by Yurie Nabeya and blockings by Ayaka Matsumoto, the will of Serbia team was too strong that enabled them to sail till the end 25-20.
Japan came out more determined and took advantage of service errors made by Serbia, leading themselves to 8-5. Serbia quickly clawed back and resulted long rallies to the second technical time-out 16-13. Consecutive success in blocking and spiking by Japan gave pressure to Serbia for two time-outs at 18-17 and 22-20. Overwhelming spikes demonstrated by Yurie Nabeya levelled the match to 23-23. Replicating yesterday’s result against China, Japan took the third set 25-23.
Buoyed by the last set’s triumph, Japan took the early ascendancy in the fourth set. They continued to storm forward with showing tactful blockings and extend the gap to the second technical time-out 16-11. The blockings were too solid that forced Serbia commit several errors. Serbia became shaky which favored Japanese to further control the set. The lead seems too wide for Serbia to claw from the back and Japan easily won the fourth set 25-20.
The Asian team brought along their perseverance to the fifth set. The match started close with both teams not allowing each other to get breathing space. Serbia used its strong attack to take a close lead 8-6 in the first technical time-out. Japan turned around the game and took the lead to 14-12 with the impressive attacking sequence demonstrated by Sarina Koga. Japan surprised the crowd and closed the set 15-13.