Juncos, Puerto Rico, September 17, 2015 - Japanese duo of Nanami Hirose and Kaori Mabashi played superbly to give Japan the best result for their semifinal hopes in Puerto Rico - a 3-0 (25-16, 25-12, 28-26) over a Bulgarian side that’s out of contest, despite their final struggle.
Japan now have to wait for the result of Dominican Republic and Peru, but the win placed them at range with 6 points, and a handful of options to be among the elite four.
Hirose uncorked 18 points, with 9 of them only in the second set, while Mabashi fired four aces and completed 14 points to become the best scorers for Japan. Bulgaria’s Gergana Dimitrova jumped to the top of the charts with 19 kills.
The first two sets were nearly a monologue from Japan, as their usual game of defence and counterattack bordered perfection, leaving Bulgaria stunned. The European side could only gather 18 points counting both chapters.
However, things changed in the next set, with successful entrances from Vangeliya Rachkovska and Polina Neykova. Bulgaria also made some blocking adjustments and managed to lead throughout almost the whole set, but Japan had the luck on their side. A serve from Yurika Kono rested on the net before falling on Bulgarian ground, and Japan transformed that 27-26 on the victory.