Talented Yuki Ishikawa scored a match-high 22 points as Japan began Week 3 of the 2021 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League in Rimini, Italy with a hard-fought victory against gallant Australia.

The dramatic 3-1 (25-18, 21-25, 28-26, 26-24) victory in the closely-contested encounter against the determined Volleyroos improved the Japan’s record to 4 wins against 3 losses to temporarily trail in 8th position with 11 points in the 16-team standing. Australia succumbed to their 7 losses in succession to be on the bottom of the standing.

Captain Yuki Ishikawa topscored with 22 points including 20 attacks and 2 aces for Japan, while left-hander Kunihiro Shimizu and Ran Takahashi assisted with 17 and 13 points respectively. Luke Smith led Australia with 19 points, with captain Nehemiah Mote adding 14.

Japan’s Fujii Naonobu said at the virtual mixed zone: “It was a very tough game. This match ended with a 3-1 win for our team, but there are some small details we have to fix ahead of the next games. This result is the best we could get today. Our sideout worked well and we were good in breakpoints and this was a key to our success.

Australia’s Max Senica said: “We were very close in the end, it was just a couple of misplays, but I’m really proud of the boys for how we were playing today. We got a lot of experience and I couldn’t be happier with our performance. Of course it’s not the score that we wanted. The speed of their attacks, especially in the middle – they were hard to stop. I think Lee had an amazing performance and trying to stop him is difficult.”

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