Saitama, Japan, July 10, 2015 - Italy seal a dramatic 3-2 (25-15, 23-25, 25-27, 26-24, 15-12) win over Japan coming from a set behind to take victory in front of a vocal Japanese crowd in Saitama with Lucia Bosetti hitting 19 points for the European side, whilst Sarina Koga hits 28 points for Japan
Italy were first out of the blocks against the home side, taking a 5-2 lead before Japan won the next three points to level a 5-5. Italy again forced Japan onto the back foot opening a four point gap at 10-6 to silence the home crowd. The European side were intent on forcing the issue in Saitama continuing to keep the gap manageable as they headed to the back end of the set with a lead of seven at 20-13. The Italians rolled through to win the set comfortably 25-15 to take a 1-0 lead in the tie.
Italy were again on top in the opening exchanges with Lucia Bosetti leading the scoring for the away side as they went 5-0 in front. Japan were still in the encounter however thanks to Sarina Koga's power scoring and pulled the score to within two at 14-12 to Italy. The Japanese side were fighting hard against the power game employed by the Italian's and stormed in front, winning five straight points to level the set at 1-1 with a 25-23 set win.
The close encounter continued early in the second set with both sides exchanging points with Japan edging into a 9-8 lead. The home side then took control of the set with Koga once again impressive on the court for Japan as they opened up a six point lead at 18-12. As with the first set, this woke the side behind up as Italy leveled the tie at 21-21 as both teams hit sudden-death and had set points before Japan delighted the vocal home crowd by taking the set 27-25 for a 2-1 lead in sets.
Japan buoyed by taking the third set to lead 2-1 were straight on the offensive in the fourth set taking an early 4-0 lead but again as with the previous two sets, the side behind, in this case Italy fought back to level before once again the teams exchanged the lead several times. Koga was continuing to lead the Japanese cause with some powerful spiking and some impressive blocking but neither side could make the decisive break for the line. The game again reached sudden-death with this time Italy, led by Bosetti leveling the tie at 2-2 with a 26-24 win to head into a fifth set tie-break.
The tie-break was again a tight affair with both sides again exchanging points early in the deciding set. The game was balanced on a knife-edge as neither side could pull away to take that decisive break that would give them the win in a crucial game in the World Grand Prix. Much to the home crowd's despair it was Italy that made the break and sealed the tie with a 15-12 win for a 3-2 victory.
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