VNL 2024 - News

Japan (JPN) vs. France (FRA) men - Pool 2 - Preliminary Phase #4933778

Kento Miyaura receives greetings from his teammates

Kento Miyaura was Japan’s golden substitution in their fourth Volleyball Nations League 2023 victory. The sub-in opposite powered the home team to a 3-1 (25-27, 25-22, 25-21, 25-20) win over defending VNL champions France in the last Pool 2 game in Nagoya on Sunday. This result pushed Japan to the top of the current standings on 12 points and only two sets lost, and only previous leaders USA have a shot at reclaiming the first place after week one, should they take the three points from their last match in Ottawa later in the day. Meanwhile, France are leaving Nagoya with a 1-3 win-loss record and three points, currently standing 12th in the table.

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Japan and France finished the match level on attack points and kill blocks, but the Asians outserved the Europeans with seven aces against three. The unforced mistakes were also more abundant on the French side. Outside hitters Ran Takahashi and captain Yuki Ishikawa led the home team’s scorers with 17 and 16 points, respectively, while Miyaura was right behind them with 13 (including a block and two aces), delivering 10 of them in the last set alone. French opposite Theo Faure was the best scorer of the match on 21 points, including four blocks. Outsides Kevin Tillie and Timothee Carle added 14 and 13, respectively, for France.

With Faure in brilliant shape at the net, France had the upper hand for the most part of the first set, but eventually could not hold on to their five-point lead as Japan caught up at 17-17 to prompt an exciting epilogue. The point-for-point battle was pushed to overtime. The home team denied two French set points before Faure brought in the third one with a successful spike and converted it himself to a 27-25 win with a monster block, his ninth point of the set. To get back into the game, Japan outblocked France in set two. They were in control of the scoreboard for the better part of the set, but the Europeans, persistent in attack, especially through Carle, came back to draw level at 20-20 and even take the next rally to step in front. Japan regained the lead and pushed ahead to win the set by 25-22 on a monster block by sub-in Miyaura.

The third set offered an even battle with the lead going back and forth until a 20-20 tie. However, from that point on, it was the French unforced errors that tilted the set Japan’s way. The home side took the next four rallies with Ishikawa on the serve and himself bringing in set point with a smashing pipe for 24-20. Two serving errors down the road, Japan celebrated a 25-21 set win. Miyaura was instrumental to the home team winning the fourth set. It went level trough 8-8, when he spiked for 9-8 and went behind the serving line to fire up the crowd on the stands with two aces in a row for 11-8. France never gave up and managed to tie the score again at 19-19. But Miyaura once again played a key role in a five-point series, bringing in match point with his 10th point of the set. Once again, two serving errors later, the home team and the home fans could celebrate the fourth victory at 25-20 in the fourth set.

Japan (JPN) vs. France (FRA) men - Pool 2 - Preliminary Phase #4933806

A full house in Nagoya for Japan’s match against France

“For us, this game was very important, because France are so strong and so high in the hierarchy, and the win would bring us important points in the World Ranking. At the beginning, I was a little bit nervous, but I am happy to have entered and played well, especially in front of so many Japanese fans,” said Miyaura after the match.

After a week’s break, both Japan and France will continue their VNL campaigns at the Pool 4 tournament in Orleans. The Asians’ next match is against Canada on June 20 at 13:00 local time (11:00 UTC). Hosts France will next play against Argentina on June 21 at 21:00 (19:00).

Serbia (SRB) vs. Poland (POL) men - Pool 2 - Preliminary Phase #4933286

Serbia’s Drazen Luburic in attack against Poland

Two three-setters took place in Nagoya earlier on Sunday. Serbia handed Poland their first defeat of the tournament, claiming their second victory with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-14) sweep, outplaying the FIVB Volleyball World Championship silver medallists on all counts. Opposite and captain Drazen Luburic led the way with 19 points, including an ace. Outside Miran Kujundzic impressed with another three aces towards a 15-point tally for Serbia. Middle blocker Karol Klos was Poland’s most prolific player on three kill blocks and seven kills in attack. Serbia improved to 2-2 and six points in seventh place, while Poland dropped to fourth on 3-1 and seven points.

In the first match of the day, Slovenia delivered a 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-23) shutout of Iran to rise to third in the table on 3-1 and nine points, pushing the opponents down to 12th on 1-3 and four. Outside hitter Rok Mozic was on fire again to hammer out a match-high 25 points, including four aces and a block. Captain Tine Urnaut aced another five times to finish with a total of 13 points, while opposite Ali Hajipour lead the Iranian scorers with 15 points.

The last competition day of the first competition week in the men’s VNL continues in Ottawa, where Argentina meet the Netherlands at 11:00 local time (15:00 UTC), USA clash with Brazil at 14:30 (18:30) and hosts Canada take on Germany at 18:00 (22:00).