Dominican Republic and China also victorious on Friday

Tournament hosts Japan mastered their second win in Pool 2 of the first competition week in women’s Volleyball Nations League 2023. On Friday in Nagoya, they hammered out a 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-20) shutout of Croatia, handing the VNL rookies their third loss in three matches played, while improving their own win-loss record to 2-0 and rising to second place in the current standings with six points, just below table leaders Türkiye on point ratio.

Japan’s captain Sarina Koga showed a brilliant performance again, leading the team to victory with a match-high 18 points. The outside hitter fired three aces towards the win and added 13 points in attack and two in blocking. Kotona Hayashi contributed another 12 points, while Dijana Karatovic led Croatia with 10.

Middle blocker Ayaki Araki spearheaded the Japanese offence during the first set and contributed five points in attack, including the set winner towards an emphatic 25-17. The lead went back and forth during the first half of the second set, with Croatia staying competitive through 15-14. This is when Japan broke away again on a seven-point run with Arisa Inoue behind the serving line. Sub-in Yukiko Wada closed the set with a cross-court kill for 25-19. Japan were in control of the scoreboard throughout set three, but the Europeans kept fighting and managed to register their highest set score of the match before Inoue spiked successfully for a 25-20 close.

Ayaki Araki in attack

“I am happy with the way I played, especially with hitting,” said birthday girl Mai Irisawa, who turned 24 on the day of the match. “I am so happy that we won again today.”

Japan’s next match is on Saturday against Bulgaria. Croatia will finish their Nagoya campaign on Sunday with a game against Brazil.

Japan celebrating

Friday’s earlier programme in Nagoya offered yet another thrilling five-setter, in which Dominican Republic produced a 3-2 (25-18, 22-25, 25-18, 21-25, 15-11) victory over the Netherlands, their second of the tournament, after edging Bulgaria on Thursday, leaving the Dutch still winless in three matches of the competition. Brayelin Martinez was once again the top scorer of the match, contributing 25 points, including three blocks, to the victory, while opposite Gaila Gonzalez added another 22, including three blocks and two aces. The Netherlands’ opposite Elles Dambrink was once again her team’s most productive player with 24 points.

In Friday’s earliest match, China hammered out a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-22) shutout of Germany, improving to a 2-0 win-loss record and five points. It was the European side’s first defeat in three matches, but they are still a point above the Chinese in the standings. China’s outside Li Yingying led her team with 14 points, while Hanna Orthmann topped the chart on Germany’s side again with a match-high 19 points, including two aces and two blocks.

Friday’s action continues over in Antalya, with Thailand playing Poland at 14:00 local time (11:00 UTC), Canada facing Korea at 17:00 (14:00) and Olympic champions United States clashing with defending VNL titleholders Italy at 20:00 (17:00).

Volleyball Nations League 2023: full schedule and results


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