Japan extended its unbeaten record to seven, taking down perennial foes Thailand in straight sets, 25-22, 25-16, 25-14, in the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, Friday evening at the SMART Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Captain and outside hitter Sarina Koga exploded for 21 points on 18 attacks and three blocks, while Arisa Inoue added 17 markers on 15 spikes and two blocks.
Thailand rose to a strong start before Japan made it a game during the middle part of the first set. With Mayu Ishikawa at the helm at the service line and with their transition working, the world no. 5 ended the opener on a 6-2 run, 25-22.
It was more of the same in the second set, as Japan continued to bank on their defense to counterattack en route to an 8-4 lead. Koga then took charge for the Hinotori Nippon as they took a commanding 2-0 set advantage, 25-16.
Sensing momentum, Japan continued to work well in the third frame with setter Nanami Seki going to several options on offense. Thailand, on the contrary, struggled to score past Japan’s solid defense.
Japan eventually wrapped up the match, with an 8-3 run, 25-14, fittingly ending with a Koga down-the-line spike.
Despite not registering any single ace in the match, Koga believed that Japan did on their plan to serve well against Thailand. She said through an interpreter, “Before the match, we had a meeting and set our objectives on how to target on service. Everybody did well on service, so that’s the reason we got the win.”
Japan will try to keep its unblemished record when they face another familiar foe in China (5-1) on June 19 at 7 p.m.
Chatchu-on Moksri and Ajcharaporn Kongkyot carried the fight for Thailand with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Moksri scored nine spikes and two blocks, while Kongkyot ended with eight attacks and two blocks. Pimpichaya Kokram struggled on her return with eight points, all on attacks.
Thailand (4-3), on the hand, will attempt to arrest the skid against the USA (5-1) earlier that day at 3 p.m.