VNL: Masterful Japan stays perfect with win over China
MANILA, Philippines — Japan displayed its masterful offense and floor defense to buck a slow start and foil China, 19-25, 25-16, 25-23, 25-12, for its eighth straight win on the final day of Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Week 2 on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Team captain Sarina Koga unleashed 22 points built on 17 attacks, four blocks and an ace including a tremendous defensive effort with 15 digs and five receptions to keep Japan unbeaten for the solo lead and complete a four-game sweep of the Quezon City leg.
The star spiker of NEC Red Rockets in Japan V.League thanked the Filipino fans, who loudly cheered for them, chanting “Nippon! Nippon!” during their match against the World. No.2 China, which also got a boost from its countrymen at the Big Dome.
“Philippine fans have a lot of energy and power which is good for us. We have a good motivation because they give us a good ambiance. We had a good experience,” said Koga through an interpreter.
Besides the Japanese skipper, Kotona Hayashi also delivered an all-around effort, hitting 18 kills for 19 points to go with 12 digs and eight receptions. Arisa Inoue chipped in 15 points, including two aces.
Hinotori Nippon absorbed its first set loss in the Philippine leg after sweeping its first three matches. But the Japanese showed their dominance in the last three sets, especially in the fourth frame with a 22-7 spread, and never looked back to bag the victory.
“In the first set, we couldn’t make a good service against China. Our strong points are defense and service. We need to make a good start every time we play against tall teams,” Koga said. “They have a lot of good outside hitters. We tried to make good serves against China. Finally, we got a good counterattack against China and get the victory.”
It was Japan’s seventh victory in its head-to-head against China, which won 22 of their 29 matches against each other.
The Japanese will head to Calgary, Canada for Week 3, where they will battle the Netherlands, Turkey, and Belgium from June 28 to July 3.
The women’s Finals will be staged in Ankara from July 13 to 17 as the top 7 teams and host Turkey will fight for the world championship.
Li Yingying carried the cudgels of China with 27 points, 13 digs, and 10 receptions, while Gong Xiangyu added 12 markers.
The Chinese lost their last two matches in the Philippines, including a three-set loss to United States on Saturday night.
China slid to 5-3 in the fourth seed before heading to Sofia, Bulgaria for the last leg before the finals.