Montreux, Switzerland, May 26, 2015 - Japan showed its technical prowess and experience to an audience on fire for the first day of the Montreux Volley Masters conquering Turkey in three straight sets (25-19, 26-24, 25-18).
Despite a shaky serve-receive, and a different formation on the court that saw the defensive specialist of the Nipponese team playing in middle-back rather of the more traditional left-back position, Japan proved to be an amazing defensive team, and to posses a great offense, focused less on precision but more on unpredictability and speed of the setting that more than once left the opponent block discomposed, putting the Oriental line of attack in the best position to score.
The first set started off as a point-to-point battle, that set the pace of the game, with both team fighting for each and every point. But the Japanese lead of 5 points over Turkey in the second half of the set, forced the Turkish head coach Ferhat Akbas, to do some substitutions (18-13) and call a time out, that did not prove to be effective, since Japan's lead increased to 22-18.
A successful line shot from outside hitter Yuki Ishii, and a mistake on the Turkish side gave Japan the first of 6 set balls, which Japan took advantage of, and used to close the set.
After the successful first set, Japan started off the second one on fire, pounding balls, and putting up blocks that nobody would ever expect from a team of that height (average height 174 cm vs Turkish average 187 cm). The rapidity of the Japanese, and their unpredictable setting distribution put the Turkish under pressure but did not affect their aggressiveness on the net, and after a first technical time out at a score of 8-4 for the Nipponese, the Turkish put down three consecutive and powerful attacks that bounced them back to a 9-8 score.
On the score of 19-20 for Turkey, the coach opted for a substitution, but a well calculated line shot of Ishii, one of Japan's key players, tied the teams at 20-20. A spectacular rally, with both teams picking up incredible digs, and pounding balls lit up the really entertained public.
Two mistakes on the Japanese side of the net brought Turkey back in the game on the score of 24-24, but a well-placed shot from the top scorer of the game Sarina Koga gave Japan the first set-ball, and then the set thanks to Riho Otake's ace.
While Turkey did not let go, Japan started off the third set a little more relaxed, and committed a couple more mistakes than necessary, allowing Turkey to play their game and tie at 12-12.
A great run-through save from the Japanese setter Haruka Miyashita made the public roar, but ended the rally in favor of the Turkey team.
Strong serving and great defense put the Nipponese ahead, and a great solo block of Ishii solidified the Japanese lead (20-14), while Turkey's chances to get back in the game slipped away.
The set and game ended 25-18, with a net fault of the Turkish team.
Another game where two physically completely different teams were opposed and, ironically, the least athletic team put the win in the pocket. While much taller and powerful then the Japanese, the Turkish could not be as effective on the net, with a team top scorers, Neriman Oszoy and Gözde Yilmaz, with respectively only 10 and 7 kill, compared to the Japanese Koga and Ishii, who ended the game with 16 and 15 kills. Despite the loss, Turkey never let the energy nor the guard down, offering to the Swiss and international public in the hall a really nice show.
On a side note, in the first 5 points of the game, outside hitter Yurie Nabeya, on a net contrast, landed in a way that injured her ankle. Hoping to see her soon on the court, we wish her to get better soon.