Formidable Japan wrapped up their Week 4 obligations at the 2021 FIVB Women’s Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy with a four-set win over Belgium that keeps their hopes alive in search for a ticket to the Final Four.

Defending two-time Asian champions Japan lost the close first set 23-25 to Belgium, but pulled their game together to power past the tough rivals in the following sets 25-22, 25-21, 25-21 to move to the third position at the 16-team standing with 25 points from 9 wins against 3 losses.

Sarina Koga scored a match-high 21 points for Japan, while Mayu Ishikawa and Nichika Yamada added 12 apiece. Powerful hitter Britt Herbots led Belgium with 26 points and Marlies Janssens added 22 on the team’s losing efforts.

Belgium’s Britt Herbots said at the virtual Mixed Zone: “After the two games that we lost against USA and Turkey we wanted to push a little bit more this day. But we knew that Japan are playing really well at this tournament, we knew that it would be a tough game, but we were pushing, we kept playing.

“We are coming closer to the end of the tournament, so everyone is tired, that’s why we had to push even harder. Japan were defending everything, it’s incredible, they have an amazing ball contact. They are not the tallest and not the strongest team but they are working so well together, their tactics are always good, they keep fighting and no ball falls to the floor, so playing against them you have to be really patient.”

Japan’s Erika Araki said: “We are happy that we won, because it was a very difficult match. Belgium are a high-blocking team, they have a good service, so it was not easy to play against them. But we worked really well in defence and in reception and this gave us the victory today.”

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