PLAYER FOCUS: MAYU ISHIKAWA

PLAYER FOCUS: MAYU ISHIKAWA

Japan’s top scorer in their victory against China on Wednesday

Who? Mayu Ishikawa, a 21-year-old wing spiker who has risen quickly through Japan’s age-grade ranks to the national team to become one of the players Japan are pinning their hopes on to help them to glory in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League and at Tokyo 2020. She made her Japan debut at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup

Early Days – Ishikawa comes from strong volleyball stock, as the younger sister of men’s team player Yuki Ishikawa who is four years older.

Having been a high-school star Ishikawa grabbed the nation’s attention when she helped Japan hold off Korea and Thailand to win the 2019 Asian Championships and along the way earned the MVP and Best Outside Spiker titles.

She continued her strong form that year when she helped Japan triumph at the Mexico 2019 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship.

In the gold medal match Japan defeated Italy in five sets and Ishikawa led the way by topping the scoring charts with 19 points.

Ishikawa’s form helped Noboru Aihara’s Japan team go through the tournament unbeaten and she was duly rewarded with another MVP title.

Within two months Ishikawa was promoted to the national team, and she hasn’t looked back since.

Hitting the heights – Ishikawa’s inclusion in the Japan 2019 FIVB World Cup squad was her first tournament with the national team and she grabbed her chance with both hands.

The Aichi-born player made her debut as a substitute in Japan’s opening match against the Dominican Republic, but she really began to make her mark in Japan’s next match, against Russia.

She came off the bench in the opening set, then started the other four sets and ended the match with 20 points.

Next up were Korea and Ishikawa responded to playing Japan’s continental rivals by scoring 17 points. She added 23 more against VNL champions USA, four in one set versus Kenya, eight against Brazil, and one in a brief cameo against Argentina.

She finished the tournament with 10 points against the Netherlands to help Japan finish in fifth place, but since then the Coronavirus pandemic means she hasn’t had the chance to push on with the national team.

Nonetheless the 173cm-tall Ishikawa has continued to excel in the Japan V League for Toray Arrows.

What She Says – “I was motivated by my sister and my brother who played volleyball. I saw them play and followed them all the time, that’s why I got into this sport. Since then, I’ve been playing volleyball and it is everything to me.”

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