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Sports

Japan rallies to reverse-sweep France in VNL

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
Japan rallies to reverse-sweep France in VNL
Yuki Ishikawa (14) exploded for 33 points against France.
STAR / Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines -- Japan came from two sets down and completed a reverse sweep against France, 17-25, 19-25, 25-16, 25-23, 15-10, Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Yuki Ishikawa exploded for 33 points to lead Japan, which won the last two games without crowd darling Ran Takahashi.

After losing the first two sets, the Japanese regained their sharpness and started the third frame with five unanswered points, setting the tone the rest of the way en route to a 25-16 victory capped by an Ishikawa kill that went off the block of Antoine Brizard.

With a newfound pep in their step, Japan overcame a late 21-22 advantage of France in the fourth set to close it up with a 4-1 run to force the fifth and final canto.

And here, the Japanese turned things up a notch, turning a 3-3 deadlock to a 10-5 edge capped by a net touch error.

A Kento Miyaura service error halted the run, and a Brizard kill cut the deficit to just three, but he and Ishikawa punched in crucial hits to keep the French at bay, 13-8.

A service error by Louati gave Japan the match point, but a block by Quentin Jouffroy on Ishikawa saved the match, 14-10.

Ishikawa though made up for it with a cross-court attack that went off the fingertips of Le Goff to complete the comeback win.

Miyaura backstopped Ishikawa’s explosion with 21 of his own.

Jean Patry spearheaded France with 21 points. Trevor Clevenot added 15, while Yacine Louati chipped in 11.

The French will try to bounce back against Brazil on Sunday at 3 p.m. Japan won its second straight match in the tourney and will face the USA in the final Philippine match also Sunday at 7 p.m.

“It’s gonna be a tough game for sure, we will fight all the time and we will try our best,” Ishikawa said after the win.

The Japanese rose to 8-3, while the Olympic champions France dropped to 7-4.

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