The No. 1 USA was full of smiles playing in front of a packed house on home soil and defeating No. 5 Japan.
Long Beach, USA, June 18, 2016 – Top-ranked U.S. Women’s National Team, playing in front of a sell-out crowd in Long Beach, California, notched a 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-21) victory over No. 5 Japan on Saturday evening in Long Beach, California, in a battle of Olympic-qualified teams.
The USA had balanced scoring with Foluke Akinradewo soring a team-best 14 points. Kim Hill added 13 points and Rachael Adams contributed 10 points.
Miyu Nagaoka led Japan with 16 points and Yuki Ishii added 10 points.
Team USA maintained a 9-2 block advantage. Both teams had four aces.
Team USA, now 4-1 overall with 12 points and in fourth place in the World Grand Prix standings, concludes the Pool E weekend by playing No. 10 Turkey on Sunday at 17:00. Japan, which falls to 1-4 overall through five of its nine World Grand Prix preliminary round matches, faces Germany on Sunday at 15:00.
Entering the match, the USA had won 20 of its 26 World Grand Prix matches with Japan including the last 10 meetings. The Asian side has not won a World Grand Prix meeting since 2005.
The USA took a 5-2 lead in the opening set following a Lowe attack and that ignited the American offense. Hill gave Team USA an 8-4 lead at the first technical timeout and the lead quickly jumped to 12-4 with Adams scoring two aces and Akinradewo pounding an authoritative attack around a Hill kill. The USA lead reached double digits at 14-4. After trailing 18-9, Sakoda served consecutive aces to help Japan cut the deficit to 18-12. The USA reached set point 24-16 with an Akinradewo overpass kill and Hill won the set with a kill off a successful challenge at 25-16. The middles of Adams and Akinradewo scored six points each in the set as the Americans converted 19 of 32 attacks for points.
Japan gained a 4-1 lead early in the second set capped by a Ishii ace. Glass served an ace between two Larson kills, the first being a successful USA video challenge, to give the Americans a 6-5 lead. Japan went back into the lead with an Ishii kill at 8-7. Hill answered with a kill and block to reverse the lead to the USA at 9-8. Japan reached the second technical timeout with a 16-15 lead following a USA error. Trailing 19-17, the USA came back to tie the set 19-all on a Larson kill. The teams traded points until Lowe and Hill were able to put away consecutive winners to give the Americans set point at 24-23. Akinradewo ended the set with a power slam on the slide that hit within the three-meter zone that ignited a thunderous applause from the crowd.
Ishii scored a kill to put Japan in a third set tie at 5-all after trailing 5-3. Akinradewo and Larson scored back-to-back kills to give the Americans a two-point cushion at 11-9. Team USA upped the lead to 17-12 with a Hill block as part of a 5-2 American run. Nabeya served an ace and the USA hit wide twice to cut the American lead to 17-16. Akinradewo took a quick set for a kill providing the Americans a two-point edge at 19-17. Japan answered with consecutive points to tie the set at 19-all, but Hill and Murphy responded with back-to-back kills to give the Americans a 21-19 lead. Japan leveled the score again at 21-all. Adams ended a long rally at 23-21 with an Adams block. Larson slammed a kill off the block to give the Americans match point at 24-21 and Murphy ended the set promptly with a cross-court winner at 25-21.