Apeldoorn, Netherlands, Jul 7, 2017 – Sarina Koga scored 23 points, including 20 in attack, in Japan’s tiebreak win over Thailand in their first match of the 2017 FIVB Grand Prix on Friday.
Mari Horikawa added 21 points for Japan, while Pimpichaya Kokram and Ajcharaporn Kongyot scored 17 each for Thailand.
Each of the first three sets saw one team dominating the proceedings with Japan taking a 2-1 lead. In the fourth set, the closest of the match, Thailand came back from a few-point deficit late in the set to force a tiebreak. However, the fifth set saw Japan jump ahead early on and control the set from then on. They closed it out at 15-9.
Kumi Nakada, coach of Japan: For us, this was a match with ups and downs. But it is important that we won our opening match. We’ve been practising now for one month, and I saw the result of this in some parts of the match. But I also found out a few things we should work on. The statistics from previous matches against Thailand are not telling me anything. The past is the past, we are here to build new history.”
Yuki Ishii, player, Japan: “I think we had the chance to win in 3 or 4 sets today, but instead we ended up playing a tiebreak. We made too many errors for a clean win, but eventually we can be happy with this victory. I think we can expect different playing styles against the Netherlands and Dominican Republic. Against these teams, we will have to block really well to give ourselves a chance.”
Nootsara Tomkom, player, Thailand: “I think we played a little too slowly today, with too many mistakes. Also, the Japanese defence was strong, so we had trouble scoring points at their court. Tomorrow, we play the Netherlands in front of their home crowd. This is going to be difficult, but it’s up to us to play our own game.”
Danai Sriwacharamaytakul, coach of Thailand: “Japan was blocking really strong today and we didn’t show the form that we normally can show. We made too many mistakes, but because the players fought hard we managed to earn a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, we had a false start, when we trailed 0-7. We were not able to fix this anymore.”
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