Washington alum named player of the match in win against host Japan
- #1 USA def. #3 Japan 3-1 (25-17, 25-19, 21-25, 25-18)
- next: #1 USA vs. #43 Bulgaria | August 17, 2013 | 11:30PM (Pacific Time) | Sendai, Japan
Middles love great serving, passing and digging.
Tough serves force opponents into predictable attacks, allowing blockers to react more quickly. Pinpoint passes and digs make it more likely setters will look to middles for quick attacks.
|USA libero Tama Miyashiro dives for a dig in the American's 3-1 victory over Japan.|
-photo courtesy FIVB
USA’s 3-1 World Grand Prix pool play victory over Japan in front of partisan thunderstick-clapping Japanese fans ran straight through the American middles. And that means serving, passing and digs were the key.
Earlier this summer, US head coach Karch Kiraly had his team study film of the Japanese, whom he cited as one of the best passing teams in the world. But USA’s servers largely disabled that advantage by sending a steady barrage of knuckleball float serves across the net. Time and again, Japan’s setters had to handle poor passers, allowing US middle Christa Harmotto (7 blocks) to lead her team to an overpowering 20-6 blocking advantage.
On offense, the Harmotto and fellow middle Lauren Gibbemeyer combined for 11 kills, thanks in large part to a stellar night from libero Tama Miyashiro, named the Player of the Match after totaling 7 digs and 7 “excellent” receptions without any receiving errors. The Washington alum was particularly valuable in the fourth set, at one point digging three consecutive attacks during one of the longest rallies of the match.
Miyashiro’s former Washington teammate, Jenna Hagglund, saw playing time in all four matches as part of the USA’s double-sub offense.
USA out-hit Japan 39% to 29%. Kristin Hildebrand and Kelly Murphy led all hitters with 16 and 14 kills, respectively.
USA is now 7-1 in pool play, and faces a tough Bulgaria (5-2) squad in the final match before next week’s 6-team final round. Bulgaria has upset wins against both Japan and high-powered Brazil; USA’s only loss was to the Brazilians in Brazil two weeks ago. USA is the three-time defending World Grand Prix champion.