VNL 2024: Yuki Ishikawa, Japan rally past Olympic champion France

Japan team celebrates in the VNL Week 3 game against France.

Japan team celebrates in the VNL 2024 Week 3 game against France. –MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines — Yuki Ishikawa took matters into his own hands to help depleted Japan complete an epic comeback-from-behind 17-25, 19-25, 25-16, 25-23, 15-10 win over Olympic champion France in the Volleyball Nations League on Saturday evening before a roaring crowd at Mall of Asia Arena.

With Ran Takahashi flying home to Japan due to a nagging injury and Yuji Nishida sitting out after the second set due to abdomen pain, Ishikawa willed Japan back from two sets down, with 33 points off 31 spikes, one ace, and a block in front of 11,879 fans.

“First two sets, we were not working well. At the same time, we made too many mistakes, especially in our attacks. After the third set, we worked on our chemistry, our attack, and defense,” said the Japan skipper. “We have to push all the time. First and second sets we were a little bit nervous.”

READ: Japan’s Ran Takahashi leaves Manila to treat knee injury

“[33 points] is not important for me. What’s important is the team, so our teammates played very well, so I had to make the right plays,” he added.

Kento Miyaura, who came off the bench, also stepped up with 19 points built on 16 spikes, two aces, and a block as Japan improved to 8-3 in fifth place with one last assignment remaining against the USA on Sunday at 7 p.m.

Miyaura powered the Japanese to an early 10-5 start in the fifth set before Ishikawa delivered the killer blows to complete the comeback win against the 2022 VNL champions.

READ: VNL 2024: Japan bounces back with sweep of Netherlands

“It’s our last game in the Philippines, so we will do our best every time, and we will continue to play well,” said Ishikawa of USA. “It’s a really, really tough game for sure. United States plays fast, so our service needs to be well.”

Akihiro Yamauchi and Kentaro Takahashi added six points each as Japan won the second of its third assignment in their third consecutive VNL Manila leg.

France absorbed its second straight defeat in Manila, sliding to a 7-4 record in sixth place.

Jean Patry led the balanced attack of the French Spikers with 21 points off 18 attacks, two aces, and a block. Trevor Clevenot backstopped him with 15 points, while Yacine Loati and Nicolas Le Goff had 11 and 10 points, respectively.

France tries to end its campaign with a win against Brazil on Sunday at 3 p.m.