Hong Kong, China, May 31, 2018 – Wing spikers Ai Kurogo and Risa Shinnabe shared the spoils with 11 points each on Thursday night, driving Japan to a comprehensive 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-21) victory over Argentina in women’s third-round action at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Kurogo drove home a team-leading nine spikes for a Japanese team who never really looked under too much pressure as they took their run at the Hong Kong Coliseum this week to 2-1. She was withdrawn from action after two sets as Japan look to the next round and to their hopes of qualifying for the finals of the inaugural VNL.

The 19-year-old had similarly been a force to be reckoned with the night before in a loss to the world number one Chinese with a team-leading 17 points – all from spikes – and the Hong Kong crowd have quickly taken Kurogo to heart due to her exploits this week.

On Thursday night they were also pretty impressed with the performance of Shinnabe, too, as the 28-year-old veteran powered Japan on their way to the win.

The bright spark for Argentina has been the form of wing spiker Anahi Tosi, whose team-leading eight points on Thursday night took her total in the 2018 VNL so far to 88 points.

The South Americans continue to play with spirit and enthusiasm despite a wretched run that has so far kept them as the only team in the VNL to have not yet won a match – and they’ve not won a set since their 3-1 loss to the Netherlands on May 16.

The Japanese had battled admirably on opening night in Hong Kong in overcoming Italy 3-2 but then found Olympic and world champions China too hot to handle in a 3-0 loss on Wednesday.

The positives coach Kumi Nakada can take from the third round include Kurogo’s stellar form and their swarming style of volleyball as the world number six ranked team look to play their way into VNL finals contention.

Two wins out of three matches in Hong Kong is a solid return for the Japanese, considering the only loss came at the hands of tournament favourites China. Next up for them as the inaugural VNL moves into its fourth round will be a trip to Nakhon Ratchasrima to face hosts Thailand along with Turkey and South Korea.

The South Americans meanwhile now have four days to regroup under the guidance of coach Guillermo Orduna before the fourth round in Bydgoszcz pits them against Belgium, Germany and hosts Poland from June 5.

Japan head coach Kumi Nakada: “ During the three matches in Hong Kong, we had a lot of gains as well as things to improve. We had two wins and a loss which was not perfect, but I am satisfied. Next week we will face some other strong opponents and we will certainly fight hard.”

Japan captain Nana Iwasaka said: “We are happy that we finished the last match in Hong Kong with a win. We still have lots to work on and improve. We will prepare well for the next round of the tournament.”

Argentina head coach Guillermo Orduna said: “Congratulations to team Japan. We improved in every match. This match serves as a valuable experience to prepare us for the upcoming FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship as we can raise our standard with more experiences. Thank you Hong Kong for your hospitality.”

Argentina captain Julieta Lazcano said: “Our team encountered some problems in the match but we did a good job and played really well. The conditions of today’s match were tough as we do not have much experience of playing in front of such a large group of people as at this high level competition.”


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