RIO DE JANEIRO – Sarina Koga played a starring role as the Japan women’s volleyball team breezed past Serbia in straight sets in its opening match at the FIVB World Grand Prix on Thursday.
Wing spiker Koga scored 20 points, with 16 attacks, 3 blocks and one ace serve in Rio Olympic-bound Japan’s 31-29, 25-18, 28-26 win.
“I thought I would use some players that did not play in the Olympic qualifiers. I expect everybody to play well,” said Japan coach Masayoshi Manabe, whose team secured its Olympic berth in the final round of Asian qualifiers in Japan last month.
“Koga is not back to her (best) condition yet and Serbia put out a weak team. I will choose the best 12 players we have for the Olympics.”
Japan is in the top group featuring 12 teams and will play nine games in the first round. Six teams, including host Thailand, play in the finals in Bangkok in July.