Battling GB beaten by Japan

05 August 2012 / 16:43

Japan ended Great Britain's women's volleyball tournament on Sunday afternoon, seeing off the host nation 3-0.

A first-ever Games win over Algeria last Monday had opened the window for Audrey Cooper's side to secure an unexpected quarter-final berth but two subsequent defeats and the Dominican Republic's victory on Sunday morning ensured that was no longer a possibility.

It was always going to be tough for them to see off Japan - they are ranked 69th compared to the Asian side's world standing of fifth and have just five years of top-level experience behind them.

It was disheartening if not unexpected for Cooper's players to start the game knowing that qualification was beyond them and their early points gave a nod to that upset.

Japan stretched out to 6-1 but Cooper quickly hauled them off for a breather and they responded in a more focussed manner, with Ciara Michel spiking twice at the net and Lynne Beattie tipping a winner after a long rally.

Their revival saw them back to 8-13 but a number of errors were costing them, with Janine Sandell failing with a spike and Michel netting a serve as Japan got out to 23-15. But a Beattie-led rally followed, with the captain blocking and then Rachel Bragg hitting a winner to 19-24 before Japan saw it out when Bragg netted a block.

The second set started in a similar manner, with Beattie finally shutting down Yukiko Ebata at the net before a cruel injury to Sandell ripped GB's momentum to shreds.

The score went from 5-7 to 5-13 in the aftermath, before Savanah Leaf stopped the rot with a spike that clipped the net. Another Beattie winner helped the cause too, but with Ebata always dangerous they fell 7-18 behind causing Cooper to hook them off for a time-out and give them an audible dressing down.

They were unable to prevent a 25-14 set loss, though, before starting the win-or-bust third in aggressive fashion. Beattie and Michel both found the ground from high up and, when Michel blocked Risa Shinnabe, it was 8-9.

Japan turned up the heat to get to 17-11, although some good fortune was found when a brilliant Leaf block dropped out. However, with such power at their disposal Japan did not need luck and eased out to take it 25-12.