Tokyo, Japan, December 5, 2007: Japan’s “Rising Son” of Volleyball is the “Rising Star” of the FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007.
Yusuke Ishijima, better known simply as “Gottsu” (meaning "tough" or "strong"), was a popular winner of the award at the prize presentation ceremony at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Sunday night.
The 23-year-old wing spiker lit up the World Cup venues on a nightly basis with his swashbuckling performances, be it a blistering serve, ferocious spike, flying dig or crunching block.
And every point was celebrated with the gusto of a true winner, energizing his teammates and whipping up the crowd into a fever pitch.
In only his second season with the national team, Ishijima finished the grueling 11-match, four-city World Cup schedule with 118 points, comprised of 98 spikes, 12 blocks and eight service winners.
Perhaps his best match came at Hiroshima on November 22, when Japan turned on the turbos and crushed South American vice champions Argentina 3-0. On match point, in front of a full house, Ishijima shocked the Argentine defence and astonished the spectators with a sizzling ace few players would have tried in such a pressure situation.
It was this kind of adventure and technical expertise that propelled Ishijima to the Rising Star award, assigned by the organizers of JVA, in his first World Cup.
Judging by his post-World Cup comments, Ishijima is not content to sit back on his laurels and enjoy his accolade.
“I will go back to my club and practice more and more, day by day – and the next chance we have to challenge the world I want to start from the point we made here,” he said.
Ishijima made his club debut for Matsubushi Daini Junior High School in Saitama Prefecture, and attended the renowned sports establishment of Tsukuba Univerity.
He now plays his club volleyball for Sakai Blazers in Osaka, and has already experienced life overseas playing in Brazil.
He joined the national team for the World League in 2006 and played at the World Championship in Japan at the end of last year.
Next year, the focus of attention will be on the Olympic qualifying tournament in Tokyo in May and June, when Japan’s Rising Star will be a key player in the bid for Beijing.