Tokyo, Japan, May 15, 2016 - Host nation Japan has recorded its second straight win with a convincing 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-11) result over an outgunned Kazakhstan on night two of the Olympic qualifiers in Tokyo.
Japan started against Kazakhstan in the manner they’d finished 24 hours earlier against Peru – clinical, uninhibited and ruthless.
Spurred on by another sell-out crowd, Japan dominated against a team that, at times, looked flat footed.
Miyu Nagaoka was the star of the opening night, but she took a back seat in the opening set while teammates Haruyo Shimamura and Saori Kimura wreaked havoc on Kazakhstan.
But it wasn’t power that was testing Kazakhstan, more the ability to deal with the floating serve on the soft Japanese block.
At one point Japan lead by just one, 5-4, but that was to be the closest Kazakhstan got in a first set that ended in the hosts’ favour, 25-14.
Kazakhstan rallied briefly in the second set, but it was only brief. Irina Shenberger provided some spark both in attack and at the block, lifting her team from a 6-1 deficit to level the scores at 8-8.
But that was the signal for Nagaoka to lift a gear. After her quiet opening set, she became a focal point in attack in the second set, lifting her tally to eight points and guiding Japan to a 25-15 set win.
Kazakhstan continued to get burned by poor serve receiving and unforced errors, the count sitting at 14-8 after two sets.
The third set started not much better for the visitors, who found themselves trailing 9-1 in next to no time.
Serve receive continued to be a problem, several overpasses providing easy points for the Japanese.
Japanese coach Masayoshi Manabe took advantage of the scoreline to give more players court time, including 2012 Olympic hero Saori Sakoda.
That Japan has chalked up two very convincing wins without Sakoda getting much court time speaks volumes for the depth of the home team. Sakoda showed she is still a force to be reckoned with, her power racking up four points in the final set.
Japan will face a much tougher test on Tuesday night when they take on Korea in what will be one of the games of the week.
For Kazakhstan their Olympic qualification path looks murky, with two losses from two games, although they have several easier games to come.