Yokohama, Japan, October 4, 2018 - Japan stormed to a 3-0 (25-27, 20-25, 24-26) win over Germany in the final Pool A match at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on Thursday, spurred to victory by the irrepressible Sarina Koga, who notched 21 points in a dominating display.
Ai Kurogo also came up with some big points for the hosts, scoring 18 times, eight of which came in a scintillating first set performance.
Germany more than played their part in a gripping game of volleyball though, and Louisa Lippmann was again their biggest scorer, putting up 21 points, including 18 spikes.
Japan had won seven of their last eight matches against Germany at world level major tournaments, including the last four, and they came into this match roared on by a buoyant home crowd at Yokohama Arena. The first set gave the fans plenty to get excited about too, as both teams tore into proceedings with some wonderful attacking play, spearheaded by Kurogo and Lippmann, who put up eight and 10 points, respectively, all from spikes. It was ultimately Koga who decided things in Japan’s favour though, slamming down to make it 27-25.
Koga was then the standout performer in the second set, acing to put Japan 8-4 up at the first technical time out before a wicked spike to make it 14-10. Erika Araki ensured Kumi Nakada’s team didn’t lose momentum with a sensational block on a Lippmann spike to make it 19-13 to Japan, after which Koga took over proceedings and hammered home spike after spike, finishing with nine points in the set including the winner.
The third set was to be another breathless affair, with Japan seemingly on course for the win before Lippmann aced to close the gap to 22-19. Felix Koslowski’s side then won the next four points to move ahead, at which point Japan sent on Miyu Nagaoka - top scorer with 20 points in their last match against Cameroon - who instantly spiked to tie the score at 23-23. The teams then exchanged a couple more points before Germany failed to return a Koga serve, sparking jubilant celebrations that almost took the roof off the arena.
Victory ensured Japan finished second in Pool A, having won all of their games in straight sets aside from the 3-2 loss to winners the Netherlands. Despite defeat Germany still finished third and will also take part in the second round, traveling to Nagoya with the Netherlands, Japan, and Mexico to participate in Pool E, which begins on Sunday.