Sarina Koga in action for Japan against Argentina
Yokohama, Japan, September 29, 2018 - Hosts Japan surged to an impressive 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-12) win over Argentina on the first day of the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on Saturday, with Sarina Koga the key scoring threat as she bagged 15 points.
Risa Shinnabe and Ai Kurogo made similarly important contributions of 10 apiece, demonstrating Japan’s willingness and ability to share the workload around as they seek to claim a medal for the first time since picking up bronze on home soil in 2010.
Elina Rodriguez was at the forefront of Argentina’s resistance in this Pool A match, putting up seven points - six of which came from spikes.
Japan had won all eight of their previous matches against Argentina at world level major tournaments - also emerging victorious from seven of those without giving up a set - and they started as they meant to go on here with Kanami Tashiro serving an ace for the very first point of the game.
Argentina certainly looked a little overawed by the electric atmosphere in Yokohama Arena, with chants of ‘Nippon’ raining down from the stands and the partisan home crowd celebrating every Japan point with thunderous applause on their gold inflatable clappers.
Despite Argentina winning a couple of challenges at 19-12 and 23-15 to Japan it always looked like Kumi Nakada’s side had a little too much for them, and the first set was decided by a thunderous spike from Kurogo.
The second set proved to be similarly smooth sailing for Japan, who began to showcase the wide range of volleyball in their locker by not only picking up points with power but also getting on the board with some more subtle plays. They were exemplified by a cute Tashiro dink over the net to make it 15-10 and a similarly delicate play from Erika Araki to move them 22-13 ahead, although Shinnabe did wrap up the set with another powerful spike.
Japan had the bit between their teeth by this point and made similarly short work of Argentina in the final set, Koga striking the fatal blow with another expert spike to wrap up a dominant 25-12 win.
The Netherlands provide Japan’s next opponents on Sunday, when Argentina will also be in action again against Mexico.