Olympic champion and World No. 1 Brazil won the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup on Sunday by defeating Japan 3-0 (29-27, 25-14, 25-18) at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
Brazil became the first team to win the title twice. It also won in 2005.
Japan took the bronze medal, matching its performance in 2001.
The South American champion finished the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record for 15 points, while Japan dropped to 3-2 for nine points. The U.S. took the silver with a 4-1 record and 10 points.
It was Brazil’s fourth win against Japan in the Grand Champions Cup against one loss. Overall in FIVB tournaments, Brazil has a 48-12 win-loss record against Japan.
Fernanda Rodrigues was the top scorer for Brazil with 16 points, while Sheilla Castro had 14. Yuki Ishii was the only Japanese player to get into double figures with 12 points.
Brazil scored 17 blocking points to Japan’s two and five service points to Japan’s four. Japan committed 19 errors while Brazil had 11.
Brazil certainly didn’t get the start it wanted, dropping five straight points to fall 5-1 behind and forcing coach Ze Roberto to call a timeout. A block by Saori Sakoda on Fabiana Claudino saw Japan to a four-point lead at the first technical timeout.
Japan continued to pressure a nervy looking Brazil and went five points ahead at 14-9 after a wide shot by Sheilla. Japan maintained a four-point lead at the second TTO with a super strike by Ishii.
When Ishii blocked Fernanda on the next point to bring the margin back to five points, Ze Roberto called his players off court again. A block and a spike by Monique Pavao helped Brazil close the gap to 17-15 and the scores were level at 18 after some sloppy play by Japan.
Saori Sakoda sent down a couple of piledrivers to put Japan on top and a long shot by Fernanda gave Japan two set points. But Risa Shinnabe sent a cross-court shot wide and Japan failed to deal with Sheilla’s next serve, levelling the scores at 24.
Japan saved two Brazil set points before two more errors cost them the set. Ishii sent a service wide and then sent a shot out of bounds and Brazil were 1-0 up.
Japan struggled at the start of the second set. Sakoda sent a shot wide while Shinnabe hit the pole and was blocked twice in succession as the Japanese fell behind 4-1. Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe called a timeout to try and steady his team and it fought back to within a point at 7-6 but it was still struggling to hit through the Brazil block and fell behind 12-6.
Sakoda managed to claw a couple of points back for Japan, but the Brazilians were in the ascendancy. Brazil took the score from 14-11 to 21-11, with Fernanda coming up with two good blocks, and had no problems after that.
With Brazil only needing a point (two sets) for the championship, Fabiana brought championship point with a hit that Japan failed to return and Fernanda clinched the title with a trademark thump.
Japan brought in Yukiko Ebata and Miyu Nagaoka at the start of the third set and both delivered in the opening phase. But Fernanda made some tough hits for Brazil, while teammate Fabiola Sousa came up with two good blocks as Brazil went took an 8-5 lead at the first TTO.
Nagaoka then delivered a pair of kills, while Ebata hit a rocket and service ace as Japan levelled at 12. Manabe called a timeout after a reception error allowed Brazil to go 17-15 ahead and another when his team fell back 20-16.
Brazil was playing well, attacking with spirit and defending tenaciously while Japan struggled to find any kind of rhythm. A block by Natalia Pereira brought up match point and it was all over when Ebata sent a spike long.