Eight aces push Philippe Blain’s squad to second VNL victory in Brasilia

High-flying Nishida in action

Japan celebrated their second Volleyball Nations League win in Brasilia after downing Asian rivals China on Thursday. Opposite Yuji Nishida and team captain Yuki Ishikawa led their team at the net and from the serving line as Japan outaced and outspiked their opponents on the way to a 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-18) victory.

The two players produced three each of the team’s eight aces, against none for China in the match. Nishida added 22 spiking points at a solid 67% success rate and a kill block to top the scorers’ chart of the match on 26 points, while Ishikawa attacked at a 52% success rate and scored two blocking points towards a 16-point tally. His cross-court teammate, outside hitter Ran Takahashi also reached the double digits contributing 14 points to the victory.

China’s best scorer of the match, outside Zhang Jingyin produced a total of 15 points. He put away six of them, including two of his team’s four blocks in the first set, to help China control the scoreboard on the way to a 25-21 close. At the same time, Japan did not score a single blocking point and helped the opponents with abundant unforced errors.

As the Japanese serving started working, two aces early into the second set pushed them forward to a 4-1 lead, before they cruised on to open an eight-point gap. Successfully hitting a couple of overpasses and then stepping up their blocking efforts again, China got back to within one at 19-18, however, not for long. Ishikawa delivered his first ace in the match to bring a 24-18 set point. A couple of mistaken serves followed to lead to the end of the set at 25-19 Japan’s way.

Nishida hammered out a powerful ace for 3-1 in the third set; then another one for 13-8. Later on, Takahashi came up with a brilliant ace for 22-17. Setter Motoki Eiro handed two fine sets to middle blocker Go Murayama within the same rally with the second leading to 24-18. An error on China’s side closed the set at another 25-19.

It was Ishikawa’s turn to come up with two aces in the fourth set, one for a 10-8 lead and another one for 19-15, to help Japan edge forward again. The captain brought the game to match point with a successful kill for 24-18 and then converted it himself with another one for the 25-18 winner.

“At the beginning of the match, we did not manage to serve so well, but when we started to get our serving right and reduced our mistakes in passing that helped us win,” Ishikawa said. “China and we are two of the good teams in Asia, so a win against them is always very important for us.”

After this match, Japan topped the current VNL standings on a 2-0 win-loss record and six points, while China are still winless after two four-set defeats. Yuji Nishida leads the competition scorers on a total of 51 points, while Yuki Ishikawa has the highest number of kill blocks in the VNL so far, with seven stuffs to his name. Japan’s libero Tomohiro Yamamoto leads both the best diggers’ and the best receivers’ charts.

Japan’s next game in Brasilia is against USA on Friday, while China will take on Slovenia on Saturday.

Earlier on Thursday, in the Ottawa pool, Argentina recovered from their loss to Poland with a 3-1 (18-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-20) victory over Germany with opposite Bruno Lima and outside hitter Ezequiel Palacios contributing 16 points each. German opposite Linus Weber produced the match high of 19. The result put each of the two opponents at a 1-1 win-loss record.

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