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Nishida on fire in Japan's thrilling upset over Italy

 
Osaka, Japan, June 10, 2018 - Teenage star Yuji Nishida collected 24 points, he thrilled home-town fans, and he left Italy in shock after leading Japan to a thrilling 3-2 (21-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-22, 15-10) victory on Sunday that might just have breathed some life into their campaign at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

Once again it was the 18-year-old Nishida who led by example for Japan, driving home 21 of 42 spike attempts from opposite and rallying his teammates - and their screaming fans - around him. They simply refused to give in. Wing spiker Tatsuya Fukuzawa was also a major player for the home side with 11 points. 

Italy will walk away from the Japan trip disappointed with one win from three played - results that take on more meaning given the fact that their two leading scorers in Ivan Zaytsev (21 points) and Osmany Juantorena (83 points) were rested for the trip. The 201cm Gabriele Nelli (21 points) stepped up admirably as opposite spiker and his defensive reach was often too much for the Japanese, as he added three blocks to his tally.

Wing spiker Filippo Lanza has also made a case for major match time over the final two rounds of the inaugural VNL with his 15 points on Sunday. 

Overall the Italians out-blocked their opponents 12-5. But a loss is a loss - and the implications for Italy later in the tournament may well be huge. There was a high error count for the Italians - 43 to 24 - but take nothing away from the Japanese, they gave their fans plenty to cheer about.

A 1-2 record from the home stay doesn't look too flashy but truth is Yuichi Nakagaichi's men pushed their opponents all weekend and the form of Nishida was a major positive. Nishida's serves have also caused all teams no end of trouble, and he added three points to his tally on Sunday.

The Italians (5-4 have been battling inconsistent form after winning their opening three VNL matches and now head over to Seoul for round four where they will face China, the hosts South Korea and Australia hopeful of maximum points.

The next round of matches start on June 15 and Japan (4-5) at this stage of proceedings look to need an incredible run of form - and for other results to go their way - as they head off to Ludwigsburg to meet hosts Germany, Russia and Argentina. But the win over Italy will do massive amounts to their confidence going forward.




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