VNL 2024: Japan beats USA for first time in Manila finale

VNL 2024: Japan beats USA for first time in Manila finale

/ 09:24 PM June 23, 2024

Kento Miyaura Japan vs USA VNL 2024

Japan’s Kento Miyaura flexes his muscles during a game against USA in the VNL 2024 in Manila.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — With both teams fielding their bench in a much-anticipated final game in Manila, Japan got the better of USA, 25-20, 25-23, 25-19, to end the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Week 3 on a high note before an ecstatic 12,424 crowd on Sunday night at Mall of Asia Arena.

Japan coach Philippe Blain may have rested his starters led by captain Yuki Ishikawa and Yuji Nishida but Kento Miyaura sustained his fine play and powered the Japanese second unit for their first win against the Americans in their 19th meeting in the FIVB.

Miyaura, who was a revelation in their five-set comeback over France on Saturday, showed the way with 18 points including five aces to seal their entry to the Final Eight in Poland after finishing with a 9-3 record.

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The Japanese willed their way back from a 13-17 deficit in the third set with Miyaura scoring four straight points, highlighted by three aces to give them a 24-19 lead before Kai Masato nailed the game-winning hit.

“Today I was the top scorer but sometimes we are in a difficult moment so I tried to find a solution. I had many mistakes in spiking but [I kept on trying] I’m happy to win this,” said Miyaura, who was coming off a 19-point effort in their five-set win over France less than 24 hours ago.

Trailing 22-23 in the second set, Japan fought back with Shoma Tomita nailing an off-the-block hit for the equalizer before Kyle Ensing put them at set point after an attack error. Miyaura drilled their third straight point to complete a comeback and take a 2-0 lead.

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Masato also turned heads with 16 points built on 12 spikes and four aces, while Taishi Onodera and Larry Ik Evbade-Dan delivered eight points each.

Miyaura thanked the Filipino fans for supporting them every game as the Japanese will bring home another precious memory in their third Manila stint before heading to the final round and the Paris Olympics next month.

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“The Filipino fans are pushing us many times. Also, Filipino fans love volleyball. They are making a very nice atmosphere,” he said. 

“The last game was a very difficult game but we won the game so this experience [will help me] in the Olympics.”

After reaching the final last year and settling for a runner-up finish, USA didn’t make it to the Final Eight with a 5-7 record, splitting its four matches in its first Manila leg.

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Micah Christenson only played late in the third set, as American stars Matt Anderson, and TJ Defalco sat out with Taylor Averill and Erik Shoji being the remaining starters in the match.

Ensing led USA with 14 points, while Averill and Jordan Ewert added eight points before shifting their focus to the Olympic games in France.

TAGS: Japan, USA, Volleyball Nations League (VNL)

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