Nagoya, Japan, September 9, 2017 – Andrea Drews delivered a strong performance to guide USA to win 3-2 (22-25, 25-21, 26-28, 25-21, 15-12) over hosts Japan in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Grand Champions Cup at the Nippon Gaishi Hall on Saturday.
Drews scored 22 points, including 19 attacks and three blocks, while seasoned players Jordan Larson and Kimberly Hill helped out with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Mami Uchiseto and Yurie Nabeya made 17 and 15 points on a losing effort. The NORCECA side had 17 blocks that caused trouble for the Japanese attackers in the crucial moments of the match.
USA have a three-match winning streak in the 2017 edition and are on a streak in their last four five-set matches at the World Grand Champions Cup. In all these fixtures, they have started the match by losing the first set.
After Japan scored in spurts, Drews’ responded with solid swings from the flank. However, Japan still closed the set at 25-22. USA retaliated with a set-win, and then Japan answered back with a win as they demolished USA’s 26-5 lead with three straight blocks. USA endured the tough rallies against their rivals but managed to close the fourth and final sets in their favour.
USA captain Carli Lloyd: We’re very, very happy with this win. Our opponents are an amazing team and played a great match. I’m proud of our patience and it took a lot of patience with long rallies and a lot of problem solving to win this one. I think it’s a wonderful experience to be in a gym with such positive energy and you can tell all the fans just love volleyball. I was just grateful to be there because this doesn’t happen all the time. And the spirit of that team across the net and how they just don’t give up and have such a long tradition of volleyball and being a part of all that was very special for us.
USA coach Karch Kiraly: We love playing Japan in Japan. It is a tremendous volleyball atmosphere and very few things are like that on the planet, so it’s always an honour to play in a match like this against a team with such an incredible fighting spirit. But I’m also proud of our fighting spirit. I knew it would take a lot and some smart play to beat a very fine team. It was a battle and really hard-fought, and those are great matches.
Japan coach Kumi Nakada: Being able to take the match to full sets was good but the Americans always had the ability to respond to us and contain us. The way we scored was kind of desperate really. We were always under pressure. We got to five sets but only just. When playing against top teams, we see they always respond to what we’re doing very quickly, while we still haven’t managed to adjust to them after they’ve adjusted to us. This will only be possible through experience and playing in such big games before a big audience is the best way to help us grow as a team, so we shouldn’t waste this opportunity. My players are getting used to facing the world’s best first-hand and I want them to feel this on the court and make progress.
Japan player Koyomi Tominaga: The Americans were tall and very powerful and their block was very good. They were also technically good and strong. We showed how we could play in the first set and I think we could have won the match. Some things worked well and that makes it even more regrettable that we didn’t win. The quality of my setting could have been better and that would have helped our attackers a lot. I failed to use the middle effectively and I think we could have been more proactive. Tomorrow, we play another team with high blocking but we shouldn’t be afraid of that.
Japan player Mami Uchiseto: USA have great blocking but Japan’s speed and quick attack worked well. However, we couldn’t win and we need to refresh our minds before tomorrow’s match against another strong opponent.
Japan player Yurie Nabeya: Today was a game we could have won, I think. There were many good aspects but many points where we should have scored but didn’t. I think my spiking was too easy for them. I could have made better angles and been more daring instead of hitting to the middle and giving them chances.
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