Bangkok, Thailand, July 29, 2021 – Asian champions Japan found Brazil too strong to go down in straight sets for two in a row in their preliminary Pool A encounter of the Tokyo 2020 volleyball tournament at Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan on Thursday.
Japan, disappointed earlier with a straight-set loss to European powerhouses Serbia, faced the similar fate on Thursday following their bitter 16-25, 18-25, 24-26 loss to Brazil, silver medallists at this year’s FIVB Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy and Olympic gold medallists in 2008 and 2012.
Playing without their key player Sarina Koga, who sustained a right ankle injury during their first match against Kenya on July 25, Japan proved no match in the first set against the much stronger Brazilians, strengthened by big hitters Gabriela Braga Guimaraes, Tandara Caixeta and Fernanda Rodrigues. The Japanese battled hard to trail by 10 points as Brazil gained total control from the beginning to lead 21-11 and stretched it to 24-13. Though three set points had been saved by the Japanese, Brazil made short work of the host side to take the comfortable set 25-16.
Holding 1-0 advantage, Brazil still dominated the second set to take a commanding 17-12 lead. Japan mixed the offensive combination of exceptional attacks from Yuki Ishii and Mayu Ishikawa with effective fast spikes by Erika Araki to narrow the margin 16-22. However, the Brazilians turned things around and went on their scoring spree to win the set 25-18.
Japan had nothing to lose in the third set and they gave it all what they had. Their more determination worked out pretty well as they led initially 13-11. At that moment, Brazil had a big problem to deal with. Fernanda Silva Carneiro Macris sustained an injury while landing on the floor on her attempt to block a spike from Japan and Brazil replaced the injured setter with Silva Ratzke Roberta.
Brazil caught the Japanese at 20-all and the host side requested for timeout to improve their performance. Still, their intention did not pay off as the Brazilians went on their attacks to move ahead 24-22, needing only one more point to capture the set and match. However, Japan fought back hard to score two points in succession and level 24-all.
With the winds still in their sails, Brazil moved on with their confidence boosted as they prepared to win it in three sets. Inspired by the victory, Brazil scored straight two points to end the entire Japanese challenge.
Carolina Da Silva Ana and Fernanda Rodrigues scored 13 points apiece for Brazil and Gabriela Braga Guimaraes and Caroline De Oliveira Saad Gattaz added 11 and 10 points respectively. Mayu Ishikawa topscored with 12 points for Japan and Yuki Ishii added 11 points.
Japan dropped two matches but remained in the safe zone fourth place in Pool A with 3 points from one win against Kenya, while Brazil stayed in the second place with 8 points from three wins in a row.
On Saturday, Japan set up an all-Asians affair with Korea, while Brazil go up against Serbia, reigning world champions and silver medallists in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
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