Japan spikers fail to qualify for World Grand Prix finals

Kyodo

The Japan women’s volleyball team’s hopes of advancing to the World Grand Prix finals ended with a four-set loss to Turkey in their penultimate Pool I match on Saturday.

Japan won the first set but from that point on could not cope with the Turks’ height and power, dropping to 3-5 in the competition after a 23-25, 25-14, 25-21, 25-17 loss at Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium. Turkey improved to 7-1 and clinched a spot in the finals.

Defeat meant Japan was eliminated in the preliminary round for the first time since 2007.

Masayoshi Manabe’s team now plays South Korea in its last pool match on Sunday with only pride to play for.

“The problem today was giving up bunches of points, and we need to address that. Turkey, like Germany yesterday, had an especially good serve. And we couldn’t get the ball back to our setter properly to organize our attack. We need to make sure we have a good reception.”

“From Olympic qualification matches I knew we had to address serve reception in order to prepare for the Olympics. So that’s the first thing. But we also need less mistakes and quick volleys.”

Turkey coach Motta Marco Aurelio said, “We are very happy, as this is our first time to qualify for the finals. It’s our eighth match in this World Grand Prix, and we won seven, losing only against Cuba. I hope tomorrow we can finish well (against Germany). Our performance today was good, and I’m very happy for that.”

Earlier, Germany swept South Korea in straight sets to improve to 5-3. South Korea has a 1-7 record.

The World Grand Prix sees 16 teams play nine matches in the pool phase. The top five teams plus host China take part in the finals in Ningbo from June 27.