July 22, 2024

VNL: Japan's Yuji Nishida hopes injured teammate Ran Takahashi 'comes back much better'

VNL: Japan
Yuji Nishida fires on all cylinders to help Japan power past the Netherlands in the 2024 VNL Manila leg. | Photo (c) RM Chua/One Sports

No Ran Takahashi, no problem for Japan.

Despite not having one of their star hitters, the Ryujin Nippon still made a clean sweep of the Netherlands, 25-18, 25-19, 25-20, in the 2024 Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Manila leg at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday night, June 21.

The win over the Dutch highlighted the depth and resilience of the Japanese team as they continued their campaign in the VNL.

[RELATED STORY: Japan's Ran Takahashi ruled out for remainder of 2024 VNL Manila Leg]

Yuji Nishida stepped up for Ryujin Nippon as he amassed 16 points, 10 of which he fired in the crucial third set.

After the match, Nishida addressed the absence of Takahashi, who has already left the country earlier Friday due to a nagging knee injury, and Japan's performance so far in the tournament.

“This happened, so I hoped that he would come back, but it is the situation, and it’s more important to have that mentality. Maybe we were a little bit nervous, but I think the guys are keeping the motivation and energy,” Nishida said.

“I hope that [Ran] will come back much better at his game and join the team. It’s not so long before the Olympics, so, [he’s not in a hurry]. But keep improving step-by-step for the important games,” he added.

[RELATED STORY: VNL: Yuki Ishikawa, Japan sweep Netherlands despite Ran Takahashi’s absence in Manila leg]

With Ryujin Nippon playing two more games in Manila, Nishida also emphasized the importance of enjoyment despite the competitive nature of the tournament.

“I think we’re at a point where we’re like enjoying [playing] volleyball. So for us to win, [the goal] isn’t like this anymore but it’s more important to enjoy the game and enjoy the volleyball. So I keep this mindset like this [for the weekend],” said Nishida.

Nishida and the rest of Japan will face surging France tomorrow at 7:00 p.m.

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