How Ishikawa, Nishida and Takahashi’s overseas league experiences are making a huge impact for Japan at the VNL and beyond

The migration of Japan’s power trio – Yuki Ishikawa, Yuji Nishida and Ran Takashi – to the Italian League has not only made an impact on their individual game but has shaped a strong and great ethos for their national team program and beyond.

They seem to look like anime characters that have come to life, especially with their out-of-this-world moves on the court, and their energy and charisma are a perfect fit for the modern volleyball fandom as they draw the crowd everywhere they go.

Yuki Ishikawa

Ishikawa started playing professionally since his college days at Chuo University. And the Japanese captain has been strutting his stuff at the Italian League since 2014.

His experience in the league has helped him cope with the dynamics and power in the men’s game, and in return, he has added a different dimension and flavor to uplift his club and the league’s profile.

Ishikawa’s growth from a leadership standpoint has run concurrently with his development as a player. He is a natural born leader on offense and defense, who also creates opportunities for his teammates to shine on the court.

Yuji Nishida

Nishida had a meaningful stint in the Italian League, where he played in the same season with his compatriots Ishikawa and Takahashi in 2021/2022.

His former Italian club allowed him to showcase his gravity-defying moves and share the spotlight with the likes of Brazilian stars Mauricio Borges, Douglas Souza and Flavio Gualberto and Germany’s Christian Fromm.

With that additional wisdom playing with some of the greats from other countries, the southpaw opposite has even become a stronger player for the national team. His electric performances from the attack line breaks the defense of the opponents, providing the boost for his teammates to follow through on offense.

Ran Takahashi

Takahashi’s began his Italian League journey on December 2021 and renewed with his club for the 2022/2023 season, where he became one of the team’s top point producers. For the next season, he will be playing for Vero Volley Monza.

As one of the most reliable defenders and a hitter with a simple-but-effective approach on offense, his contribution has been vital for his club. And standing at 1.88m, he often gives up height in key matchups, but his persistence and his ability to read the ball are quite valuable weapons of his game.

These great skills will come in handy when he is suiting up for the national team as he will create a stronger rotation and support on offense and defense, complementing the performances of Ishikawa and Nishida.


These power-packed troika of hitters have all benefited and have become better players from their overseas experience, becoming role models to many other Asian players who have offshore aspirations. And the results are exponential as these athletes gain experience abroad and come back to their national teams with an empowered perspective of the game.

Japan are currently on home soil in the city of Nagoya for the Volleyball Nations League first week. They cleared their first hurdle, against Asian rivals Iran with a 3-0 scoreline. Their next opponents are Serbia on June 9, Bulgaria on June 10 and reigning Olympic and VNL champions France on June 11.

They will also be playing in Orleans in France from June 20-25 and Pasay City in the Philippines from July 4 to 9, aiming for a spot in the VNL Finals in Gdansk, Poland from July 19-23.


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