Kyoto, Japan, June 26, 2016 – Russia raced back from one set behind to beat hosts Japan 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 24-26, 20-25) in Kyoto on Sunday.
Japan were looking to hand Russia their second defeat of the 2016 FIVB World Grand Prix and delight the 5,300 at the stadium, but Russia led by the powerful Nataliya Goncharova (24 points today) denied them the victory.
After a slow start to the match and the score tied at 11-all, Japan shifted into another gear to win 8 out of the following 9 points and take a 20-12 lead. Russia were unable to recover from the blow and conceded the set, 25-20.
The visitors were able to regain their composure in the second set, with Goncharova leading the charge and giving her team a 14-8 lead. As always, Japan shone in defence, while Russia made a few sloppy errors to make things level again at 21-all. It was the Russian players, however, who showed cold blood in the end as a smart tip gave them the final point of the set at 25-23.
In set three Japan patiently built a comfortable 20-15 lead. Still, the visitors were not going to give up and managed to save four consecutive set points in an impressive fashion. Japan had a chance to earn another set point, but Sakoda was blocked by Zaryazhko. On the next play Shcherban gave Russia their sixth point in a row and a 2-1 lead in the match.
The disappointment of the third set seemed to weigh heavily on the home side as they were not able to keep up with Russia in the fourth set. Good service gave Russia a 19-15 lead which they held on to to snatch the fourth set 25-20.