Nagaoka, Koga star as Japan hands Serbia first defeat 3-1


Nagoya, Japan, October 10, 2018 - Miyu Nagaoka and Sarina Koga scored 19 points each as Japan handed Serbia their first loss 3-1 (15-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23) in the second round of the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship on Wednesday night.

Yuki Ishii added 13 for Japan in the victory.

Milena Rasic was the high scorer for Serbia with a match-high 20 points.

Serbia entered the match with a 7-0 record and had not lost a single set, while Japan was 6-1.

Japan excelled in all facets in the final three sets, passing especially well.

The tempo was established by Serbia early in the first set and Japan was on the defensive.

An ace by Bianka Busa moved Serbia out to an 8-6 lead at the first TTO. The Serbs attacked from the wings from the outset and raced to a 16-8 lead by the second TTO. Serbia quickly took the set 25-15 when Yuki Ishii served into the net.

The match turned in the second set and was largely attributable to Japan's incredible digging of the powerful Serbia spikes in the final three sets. The digging prolonged points and allowed Japan to feed the ball repeatedly to Nagaoka and Koga on the wings.

Kanami Tashiro put a nifty reverse tip over the Serbian defense to give Japan a 5-4 lead in the second set. Nagaoka ended a long rally when her spike was blocked out and Japan was up 11-9. Japan kept up a frenetic pace on offense and it paid dividends with a 16-12 edge at the second TTO. Serbia pulled within a point at 19-18 and Japan called a timeout to try and regroup. Serbia tied it at 19-19 on a Mihajlovic spike. An Ishii spike made it 22-20, but Serbia leveled again at 23-23. A Nagaoka spike was blocked out and Japan had set point at 24-23. Nagaoka then had a spike blocked out and Japan claimed the set 25-23, marking the first set that Serbia had dropped in the tournament.

Serbia committed seven errors to Japan's one in the second set.

The Serbs came out in the third set with renewed determination and led 8-7 at the first TTO. Ana Bjelica sent a spike long as Japan moved ahead 11-10. Mihajlovic crushed a spike but it was out and Japan led 15-13. Rasic sent a spike down the middle as Serbia equalized at 19-19. Koga pounded a spike to give Japan set point at 24-22. Koga struck again to give Japan the set 25-23.

Ishii ended a great rally with a spike as Japan took a 6-5 lead in the fourth set. A spike by Busa gave Serbia a 12-11 lead. The Serbs then ran off three more points to go up 15-11. Japan fought back and trailed 18-17 when Serbia was unable to handle a spike. Another Nagaoka spike made it 18-18. Serbia was unable to hand Ishii's soft spike and Japan led 24-23. Ishii's spike was then blocked out and Japan took the match 25-23.


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