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Sports

Scrappy Japanese diving, winning

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star
Scrappy Japanese diving, winning
With grit and guts, Team Japan paces the field in the Volleyball Nations League.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino fans went in droves to the Smart Araneta Coliseum to satisfy their curiosity on why this intriguing Japanese men’s volleyball team generates much buzz.

They didn’t go home disappointed.

Pumped up by one of the best crowds the tourney has drawn in its Philippine sojourn at the Big Dome, the gritty and tenacious Japan came back from a huge opening set deficit and turned back Argentina, 27-25, 25-18, 17-25, 25-16, in Volleyball Nations League Week 2 action Tuesday night.

The win propelled the Ryujin Nippon straight to the top with 13 points on four victories in five matches while endearing themselves more to the local spectators who cheered wildly for the team from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Japan overtook Tokyo Olympics gold medalist France and powerhouse United States, which were at second and third with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

The World No. 10 also avenged its four-set defeat to the Argentines in last year’s VNL edition in a game where the former took the opening set only to implode in the end.

And the Ryujin Nippon had to overcome an 11-5 opening-set deficit in carving out the emphatic win.

Yuji Nishida elicited the most applause as he unleashed a masterful 25-point effort in a game where he came through on both ends.

It was also the energetic Nishida who scored the most crucial points in the extended first set.

“This match is a very tough game. It’s a very different game. We’re very, very happy with the win,” said the Italian club Vibo Valentia stalwart.

Nishida said they were electrified by the Filipinos’ support.

Argentina came in the higher ranked team but couldn’t live up to billing.

VOLLEYBALL

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