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Kimura guides Japan past Kenya

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

Japan captain Saori Kimura scored 10 points from 14 attempts attacking as well as two on blocking, leading Japan to a 25-15, 25-20, 25-12 victory over Kenya on Wednesday in fourth-day action at the Women’s World Cup at National Yoyogi First Gymnasium.

Japan improved 4-1 while the African champion Kenya has yet to win in the 12-nation tournament.

Japan used strong serves to force Kenya to make receiving errors, keeping the Africans from establishing an offensive rhythm. Kenya has powerful hitters in Mercy Moim and Everlyne Makuto, who combined for 18 points on spikes, but failed to take full advantage of them.

“When you don’t have good reception, it is very difficult to fight Japan, which has the speed,” Kenyan head coach David Lungaho said. “But we’re still learning and in the future we want to become like Japan.”

Japan made a few mistakes blocking and receiving as well, but the solid play of Kimura and fellow attacker Miyu Nagaoka helped maintain the momentum.

It was also another fine day for Sarina Koga, who led Japan with three points on serve.

“I’m not good at service but I tossed the ball higher than usual and kept the hitting point as high as possible,” said the 19-year-old Koga, who scored six on spikes. Unlike her normal position at wing spiker, Koga hit some spikes from the middle. “It was the setter’s decision. The setter delivers the ball and leads me to the hitting point.”

After Wednesday’s matches, Koga ranked fourth among all participants with 55 points. Moim leads with 66, followed by Nataliya Obmochaeva of Russia (63) and China’s Zhu Ting (57).

In other matches on Wednesday, Russia extended its undefeated streak to four by winning 3-0 (25-10, 25-10, 25-16) over Argentina (1-3). The Dominican Republic, which takes on Japan on Thursday, improved to 3-1 by beating Cuba (1-3) 3-1 (25-22, 25-22, 18-25, 25-23).

At Matsumoto City General Gymnasium in Nagano Prefecture, Serbia (3-1) gave up only 21 points to winless Algeria (0-4) in a 3-0 (25-7, 25-11, 25-3) victory. The United States (3-1) cruised past Peru (1-3) 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-12). China (3-1) came from a set deficit to edge Asian rival South Korea (2-2) 3-1 (23-25, 25-15, 25-20, 25-23).

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