The passion and pure defending genius of libero Tomohiro Ogawa was key to Japan's win over Russia at the 2021 VNL.

Consider the height difference: Russia averaging a towering 2.01 metres, Japan merely at 1.89. And that's just head height, not even considering reach.

But libero Tomohiro Ogawa was sweeping everything within sight Sunday afternoon at the 2021 FIVB Men's Volleyball Nations League - and defending champions Russia lacked the patience to keep hitting and hitting again and again and played into Japan's hand, eventually conceding 30 unforced errors, as Japan prevailed in five amazing sets 3-2 (28-26, 26-28, 20-25, 25-21, 16-14).

And on the net, Issei Otake was creating havoc - attacking for an incredible 72.4% (21/29) and contributing three blocks for a total of 25 points - the match high.


Issei Otake kept teasing the Russians on the net as he led Japan to a stunning win at the 2021 VNL.

Kenta Takanashi was not far behind, at 17 points. Russia's scoring machine Maxim Mikhaylov bagged 23 points - his attacking efficiency at 52.6% (20/38).

Japan kept Russia's overall attacking efficiency at 51.6% (65/126), while they themselves produced 52.4%. And the Asians even had an answer to the 18 Russian blocks (6 by Egor Kliuka), replying with 7 of their own.

At two hours forty minutes it was the longest match so far in the tournament - though still just short of the all-time VNL record of 2:47 from the USA v Poland match of 2019.

It was Japan's 12th win historically over Russia (including as USSR and CIS) in 72 matches. Russia lead their head-to-head series 60-12.