VNL 2024: Japan bounces back with sweep of Netherlands

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Japan’s Yuji Nishida in a VNL 2024 Week 3 game. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Yuji Nishida and Yuki Ishikawa brought Japan back to its winning ways torching the Netherlands, 25-18, 25-19, 25-20, in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Week 3 on Friday evening at Mall of Asia Arena.

After losing to Canada in the Manila leg opener and missing Ran Takahashi, who was ruled out of the crucial week, Nishida stepped up when it mattered most with 16 points.

He led the Japanese’s comeback in the third set, where they trailed the Netherlands, 6-10.

READ: Japan star Ran Takahashi out for remainder of VNL 2024

“It’s very important, this win. Last game, the Japanese team lost and that’s on me. The mentality was down, but we tried to push the mentality, the passion, the important things this game,” said Nishida, who finished with 10 kills, three aces, and three blocks.

“I’m happy. It’s a very good win. Now, we have the next two matches and it’s very important to win. Now, there’s no recovery [time].”

The Japanese found their groove in the third set with Nishida’s back-to-back aces and massive back row kill put them ahead 16-12 and never looked back to improve their record to 7-3 in sixth place.

Nishida scored 10 points in the final set as Japan seeks to solidify its spot in the Final Eight when it wraps up its third consecutive stint in Manila against France on Saturday before battling the USA on Sunday at 7 p.m.

READ: VNL 2024: Ran Takahashi, Japan seek improvement after loss to Canada

Ishikawa backstopped Nishida with 15 points off 12 kills, two aces, and a block, while Tatsunori Otsuka stepped up with eight points to fill in the void left by Takahashi.

“We have to think of our volleyball always even if he isn’t here. Today was an important match for us because we lost against Canada. And we should focus on our [team]. We won 3-0, so it’s important for us,” he said.

Japan's Kentaro Takahashi and Yuji Nishida

Japan’s Kentaro Takahashi and Yuji Nishida. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

The hard-hitting Japanese pair also accommodated their fans–majority of them went to the fan zone even before the game started.

“It’s so incredible. I gave in to the energy so I’m so happy. Every fan is good today, so thank you so much,” Ishikawa said. 

“I’m so happy because the crowd is always full, and cheers a lot, so it’s amazing to [play] out here,” added Nishida.

Nimir Abdel-Aziz, who scored 38 and 37 points in the first two games, was limited to just seven points, as Maarten Van Garderen was the lone bright spot with 10 points.

The Netherlands slid to 13th place with a 3-8 record, hoping to end its Manila stint against Canada on Saturday at 3 p.m.





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