VNL: Yuki Ishikawa returns to lead Japan past Slovenia
MANILA, Philippines — Yuki Ishikawa helped Japan get back on track to cap its Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Quezon City leg with a convincing 25-21, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19 win over Slovenia on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Coming off a three-set loss to France on Saturday, where the Japanese sat out due to fatigue, Ishikawa returned to action with 21 points off 17 attacks, three aces, and a block, and had an impressive floor defense with eight digs and seven receptions.
The Japanese, the crowd darlings who received loud cheers from the Filipino fans, won three of their four Philippine leg matches to finish Week 2 with a 6-2 record for solo fourth seed.
Ishikawa, however, stressed that there are still a lot of things to work on for the next leg, which they will host in Osaka next month.
“We won the match. But in the second set, we were winning but we lost. It’s one thing we need to (work on),” said the Japanese captain. “This weekend, we finished with three wins and one loss. We have more things to improve before going back to Osaka.”
Tatsunori Otsuka uncorked 13 points, all coming from spikes, and had 10 receptions and eight digs.
Yuji Nishida chipped in 12 points, while middle blockers Kentaro Takahashi and Akihiro Yamauchi added 11 and seven markers, respectively.
Ran Takahashi, the most adored Japanese player by the Filipino fans, sat out for the second straight game.
Slovenia banked on the 20-point effort of Rok Mozic but dropped to 3-5 in the ninth place.
Toncek Stern helped Mozic with 16 points, while captain Tine Urnaut added 11 markers.
The Slovenians, who gave up 31 free points to Japan from their errors, will need a better outing in Week 3 in Gdansk, Poland from July 5 to 10.
The top seven teams and host Italy will qualify in the Final round from July 20 to 24 in Bologna.
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