July 22, 2024

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

VNL: Yuki Ishikawa, Japan sweep Netherlands despite Ran Takahashi’s absence in Manila leg
Yuki Ishikawa (left) and Yuji Nishida (right) steer Japan past Netherlands. | Photo (c) RM Chua/OneSports

Despite the absence of superstar hitter Ran Takahashi, Japan remained focused and resilient in its crucial clash against the Netherlands in the 2024 Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Manila leg on Friday night, June 21.

Ryujin Nippon buckled down to business, dispatching the Dutchmen in straight sets, 25-18, 25-19, 25-20, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“We have to think of our volleyball always even if he isn’t here,” team captain Yuki Ishikawa said.

“And today [we won], we’re so happy.”

Takahashi, according to Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) president Ramon ‘Tats’ Suzara, has been sidelined due to a nagging knee injury and has already left the country earlier today.

Even without the 6-foot-6 outside hitter, Ishikawa and Yuji Nishida showed the way for Team Japan.

Ishikawa poured 15 points including the match-clinching hit, while Nishida delivered a game-high 16 markers, 10 of which coming in the third frame.

The 28-year-old Japanese skipper expressed his satisfaction with how he and the remaining outside hitters filled the void left by Takahashi. He was particularly pleased with Tatsunori Otsuka, who contributed eight points.

“I cannot say for the team but we have to play without him. And Otsuka was playing well, so we are so happy, and when someone [has an] injury, we have to play always. So we have a single body,” he said.

With the victory, which served as an emphatic rebound from their five-set loss to Canada last Tuesday, Ryujin Nippon hiked to sixth place in the standings with a 7-3 record, strengthening their hold of a Final Eight slot.

“Today was an important match for us because we lost against Canada,” Ishikawa shared.

“We won 3-0, so it’s important for us.”

Ishikawa and the rest of Team Japan aim to sustain their fine form when they take on France on Saturday, June 22.

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