Clutch 5th-Set Performances Lift Japan, Korea to Wins in Pool E2

2017 FIVB World League – Pool E2

  • June 9th-11th, 2017
  • Takasaki Arena, Takasaki, Japan
  • Intercontinental Round 2 of 3
  • Day 2 of 3 in Round 2
  • Schedule/results

Pool Standings After Day 2:

RANK TEAMS MATCHES WON LOST POINTS
1
JAPAN
2 2 0 5
2
SLOVENIA
2 1 1 3
3
KOREA
2 1 1 3
4
TURKEY
2 0 2 1

The hosts from Japan handed Slovenia their first loss of the 2017 FIVB World League on Saturday at the Takasaki Arena. While the 3-2 outcome was enough to give Slovenia 2 points and keep them atop the group standings, it did knock the last undefeated team from Group 2 from its perch of perfection. Now Spain, who are a perfect 4-0 in Group 3, and France, who are 4-0 in Group 1, are now the only two undefeated teams across the three tiers of this year’s tournament.

That’s a 3rd-straight win for Japan, who opened the league 0-2 but have clawed their way back into a position for the Final 6. Their 9 points have them sitting atop a logjam of 4 teams that are all 3-2 so far in Group 2.

In the other Pool E2 matchup, South Korea beat Turkey 3-2, as they both are also now 3-2, behind Japan, and tentatively in position to qualify for the Final 6.

With that victory, Japan has effectively sealed the Pool #2 title and the $49,800 prize that comes with it.

Japan def. Slovenia 3-2 (25-22, 17-25, 25-18, 22-25, 17-15)

Slovenia out-blocked Japan 11-7; out-hit them 59 kills to 56; had a better hitting percentage by a margin of 52-48, and even gave away fewer points on hitting and service errors.

But In the 5th tie-breaking set, Masahiro Yanagida was the hero for Japan. He fired off 2 late aces when backed up against two match points before they were able to win the set 17-15 to seal the match. That was part of 19 points and 5 aces in the match for him.

“No. 8 (Yanagida) was fantastic,” said Slovenian coach Slobadan Kovac. “He changed the match with his serve. We tried to play good and in some moments we did but the service was the difference. We did not profit when we had the chance and made mistakes at key moments.”

His outburst helped cover for a rough match for Akihiro Yamauchi, who had just 3 points after scoring 12 against Turkey on Friday. Also stepping up in the match was Shuzo Yamada, who started all 5 sets in place of Yuki Ishikawa and scored 10 points.

“Because (Yuki) Ishikawa’s condition is not good, I got a big chance to play,” Yamada said. “This is my first time in the senior national team. It was a tough game.”

Mitja Gasparini scored 20 points for Slovenia, including 19 on kills. He was successful on a whopping 61.29% of his attacks, and with only 5 errors had a .452 hitting efficiency percentage. Alen Pajenk had 5 blocks for Slovenia.

“They were tall and had power, so it was a challenge,” said Yanagida. “Our service and reception worked well. We made make some mistakes and will have to work on those, but it was a great result for us.”

South Korea def. Turkey 3-2 (25-23, 25-20, 20-25, 17-25, 15-12)

South Korea picked up a crucial win on Saturday over Turkey to keep themselves in contention for a spot in the Final 6.

With his team up against it, South Korea’s Hui Chae Song scored 8-straight points in the decisive 5th set to lift his team to a victory. That was part of 18 overall points for Song in the game, matched by Kang-Won Lee to lead Korea.

Turkey’s top scorer was Baturalp Burak Bungor, who had 14 points, and Mustafa Koc, who had 5 blocks and 8 kills.

Metin Toy, who was the top scorer in group 2 in the first weekend, was again held at bay on Saturday. After a modest 14 points on Friday, he scored only 7 on Saturday – starting the first 2 sets and then being replaced for the rest of the match after 6 kills and 6 hitting errors.

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