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|Jordan Larson (L) of the United States dinks the ball during a match against Japan at the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix Final Round women's volleyball tournament in Ningbo, east China's Zhejiang Province, Aug. 29, 2010. The United States won the match 3-0 and claimed the title after five consecutive win. (Xinhua/Xu Yu)
NINGBO, Zhejiang Province, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- The United States won their third FIVB World Grand Prix title with a perfect 5-0 record by beating Japan in straight sets in their last match of the final round at Ningbo Beilun Sports and Arts Center on Sunday.
"I'm really proud of my team, not only for winning this tournament, but also for the way they were playing. It's a tough match against Japan. We were happy we won," said U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon.
"I'm very happy with our performance at the tournament. This is a great start for us, but we clearly know we need to make improvement," he said.
In front of about 4,000 spectators, USA won 26-24, 25-20, 25-23 to capture their Grand Prix crown in style. It was in blocking where the Americans made the biggest difference, winning 15 points on blocks against Japan's three.
"USA had a clear advantage in height, so they took control over the net. The Americans are really strong in spiking and blocking," said Japan's headcoach Masayoshi Manabe.
"There are two months before the world championships, I am considering call in some young players," added Manabe.
Star spikers Saori Kimura had 15 points for Japan, but she got little help from her teammates.
Japan went 4-1 ahead in the first set and widened the gap to five points at 11-6, McCutcheon was forced to call a timeout. It succeeded as Logan Tom sparked a 9-2 run for U.S. to go 15-13 up. Although Japan then managed to regain their lead, Ai Yamamoto made a mistake at the net to award the United States the set point before a Heather Bown block finished off the set 26-24.
Japan also started well in the second set, taking an early lead of 3-1 and going up 8-7 into the first technical timeout. But the United States again gradually took control as the Japanese struggled at the net in front of the impenetrable wall presented by Foluke Akinradewo, Jordan Larson and Bown. After establishing a comfortable 16-11 lead, the U.S. never looked back and eventually closed out the set 25-20.
No team could break away until when the teams were locked at 17-17 in the third set. A controversial judging decision put the USA 18-17 in front, and the USA took advantage of it to surge 24-19 ahead.
The tenacious Japanese women didn't give up and staved off four match points before USA converted on the fifth with a Larson drop shot from the middle.
Five American players scored more than 10 points and Jordan led them with 15. Destinee Hooker added 12.