USA came stronger to take the first win over Japan

Kumamoto, Japan, June 23, 2007 -- The United States tightened their grip on Pool B with a power-packed display to beat Japan 3-0 at Kumamoto Prefectural Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon. The Americans' victory, by 25-17, 25-23, 25-15, improved their win-loss record to 7-2 and left Japan at the bottom of the four-team group on 1-6. Having won all six World League meetings between the two teams in 2006 and 2007, the United States looked hungry to extend that streak, especially after nearest challengers France had suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat to Italy in Paris on Friday night. The French are now 5-4, with Italy in third place on 3-4. Only the group winner advances to the six-team final round in Poland next month. In the first set, the Americans were very impressive at the net, with Ryan Millar and David Lee both pounding some big winners to keep their team ahead. Crowd favourite Yu Koshikawa gave the home fans something to cheer with a left-wing winner that sliced through the defence, but the Americans' serving was proving too hot to handle for the Japanese. Japan had lost the plot completely when trailing 22-15, forcing a second TO from Ueta, and the superior blocking and smooth attacking combinations of the Americans swept them to the first frame, 25-17. Japan needed to lift their game significantly to stay in the match, or face being blown away in straight sets.Poor serving prevented them from building up any momentum. Takaaki Tomimatsu spiked at the net to bring Japan within two, 21-19, and the alert Koshikawa pounced on a loose ball in typically athletic style to close the gap to one point and force a second USA TO. But Gardner brought up set point at 24-21, and a Koshikawa serve that struck the net and fell wide ended it 25-23, 2-0 USA. In front of a full house in Kumamoto City on Kyushu Island, the Japanese were determined to put up a fight, and led 8-6 at the first TTO of the third frame. But just when they held a lead, their serve let them down. Despite acrobatic defence, the home team could not prevent Salmon nudging his team ahead 10-9, The points were flowing in the Americans' favour against a demoralised opponent and they wrapped up the third set and the match 25-15 for an easy win.


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