While the Japanese women's team won two Olympic gold medals in 1964 and 1976, the men's team climbed to the top of the world in Munich in 1972.
The head coach of the Japanese men's team, Yasutaka Matsudaira, recognized several years before the Munich Olympics that they needed to compose a physically tall and strong team to beat any of the European top level teams. They received many hard lessons when they travelled through Europe in the late 60's where they encountered many numerous miserable defeats.
He desperately tried to find big talented outside spikers and tall middle blockers. His concept of the team was a mix of veteran players and youngsters, as well as the dependable skilful players who rarely make mistakes and the tall young players who possessed powerful spiking.
Mr. Matsudaira was patient enough to wait and see those young players grow up and become quality, experienced players who were able to produce smart performances.
Jungo Morita, a middle blocker and two outside spikers Seiji Oko and Tadayoshi Yokota were three core attacking weapons. All of them were exceptionally tall by Japanese standards at 192-194cms.
Setter Katsutoshi Nekota led the team with his precise and spiker-friendly play. In the semifinal of the Munich Olympic Games, Japan beat Bulgaria from two sets down. Mr. Matsudaira, with his back to the wall, changed some players when they were behind in the third set.
This tactical change paid off as the momentum changed and Japan pulled off a stunning win, which the fans in Japan called a "miracle". Japan did not lose their momentum when they faced East Germany in the final to win the gold medal. Mr. Matsudaira, who won the bronze medal in 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games and the silver medal in 1968 Mexico Games, was the happiest man in the world, when he was thrown up into the air by his joyful players on the court immediately after the final.