Ran Takahashi was a revelation as a rookie starter for Japan as he led with superstar Yuji Nishida to win their second test match against China 3-1 (25-20, 25-20, 21-25, 25-20) in the Volleyball Games – Tokyo 2021 tournament on Sunday.
After scoring 16 points in their first outing, the Kyoto-born outside hitter led all scorers with 19 points. Nishida, who scored 27 points on Saturday, chipped in with 15 markers.
Japan secured the lead in the first set as they utilised their quickness against their taller counterparts and implemented well-orchestrated plays that allowed Takahashi and Nishida to score a lot from both flanks.
In the second set, Japan utilised a variety of attack plays featuring the young Takahashi leading the charge to build a comfortable lead against their Chinese counterparts. A service error by China closed the set in favour of the home team.
The third set saw the entry of the other Japanese players, but the tempo was dictated by the visiting side. China played better defence against the Japanese hitters that allowed them to snatch the third set.
The fourth set was a see-saw battle, but Takahashi gave the momentum to Japan with consecutive points off his strong spikes. As the home team gained the edge, they patiently implemented their plays until they closed the set at 25-20.
Japan coach Yuichi Nakagaichi praised the performance of his 19-year-old rookie and his contribution to his team's flow.
“We had a better start today than yesterday. From the start of the first set, we were able to accumulate points on Takahashi’s consecutive spikes. To be honest, I was a little surprised, surprised in a good way. I am looking forward to the future.”
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FIVB Volleyball Nations League
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020