About Toray, I think the middle has always been their weakest link since the departure of Erika Araki. Three national team wing spikers i.e. Sakoda, Saori and Takada simply could not lift the team up for a long long season. So Dixon is the best inclusion for the team since forever, at least at the moment, she is doing more than fantastic, adding a lot more variety on offensive game and great block skill too. Hopefully Toray will keep up with this pace and make the final this season.
I also truly hope Araki will come back to the national team after watching her recent games though i highly doubt Manabe would ever call her again.
Manabe will call her because she is better than all of the other middles that Japan has. She won two medals with him in 2010 and 2012. The middle is Japanese greatest weakness right now. They have a great offense (it may take them 12 chances, after digging everything), but the blocking is what kills them. At the World Cup, they finished 5th, but they averaged 1.69 blocks per set (68 blocks/40.13 sets played (48 points per set)), which was 10th out of 12 teams. Even with block rebounds Japan was 7th at 6.28 rebounds per set (252 rebounds/40.13 sets played). When put together Japan was 8th at 7.97 block touches per set (blocks+rebounds/sets played).
The teams that finished in front of Japan
China 3.39 blocks (2nd), 7.39 rebounds (2nd), 10.78 block touches (2nd)
Russia 3.50 blocks (1st), 6.59 rebounds (6th), 10.09 block touches (4th)
Serbia 3.27 blocks (4th), 7.28 rebounds (3th), 10.55 block touches (3rd)
USA 3.15 blocks (5th), 7.76 rebounds (1st), 10.91 block touches (1st)
So Japan is about 1.5 blocks behind the USA, only 0.3 rebounds behind Russia and 2.1 block touches behind Russia. That could work out to 2 points a set, and you need to win by 2 points right?