With less than a hundred days left before the opening of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the men’s and women’s teams of Japan and China finally set foot in the volleyball competition venue on Saturday to play test matches in the Volleyball Games - Tokyo Challenge 2021 tournament.
Rio 2016 Olympic women's gold medallists China defeated the home team in straight sets, while the Japanese men prevailed in a thrilling five-set encounter against their Chinese counterparts in the opening match at the Ariake Arena.
The last encounter between China and Japan was at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup in Japan, when the reigning Olympic champions and MVP Zhu Ting won the tournament with a sweep.
Zhu picked up where she left off in 2019 and led China again in scoring with 21 points to beat the home team 3-0 (25-16, 25-18, 31-29). China managed to win the first two sets without any setbacks, but Japan fought hard in the third frame to reach set point. However, the visiting side warded off several points from the home team to snatch set and match.
In the men’s match, Yuji Nishida topped all scorers with 27 points to lead the Ryujin Nippon in a comeback to win 3-2 (21-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 15-8) against China.
Japan’s men's last tournament was also at the FIVB World Cup, where they earned their best finish in the tournament in 28 years, a fourth place.
Ran Takahashi made his national team debut and added 16 points for Japan, while China’s Liu Libin and Dai Qingyao scored 17 and 16 points for their team, respectively.
The Japanese and Chinese men’s teams will face each other again on Sunday, May 2 at 19.15 local time.
The Tokyo 2020 volleyball tournament will take place at the Ariake Arena between July 24 and August 8.
FIVB Volleyball Nations League
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020