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Tiebreaker Times

2024 VNL Season

Kento Miyaura leads Japan to sweep of USA in VNL prelims finale

In front of a sell-out crowd at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, Japan peppered the United States from the service line to carve out a rousing 25-20, 25-23, 25-19 victory in its final match of the 2024 FIVB Men’s Volleyball Nations League preliminary phase.

Ryujin Nippon improved to a 9-3 win-loss record heading into the June 27-30 Final Round in Lodz, Poland.

The Asians completed huge comebacks in the second and third sets, including a crucial three-point run to level the third set.

They eventually used that as fuel for a 5-0 barrage, ending with three straight aces from Kento Miyaura to reach match point.

Another strong serve from the young opposite hitter resulted in a free-ball attack from the USA. The Japanese then converted this into a transition kill from Kai Masato to finish the quick one-hour-and-30-minute battle.

“We had a very difficult game, but Kai (Masato) had an amazing performance. He did everything for us. Our defense system also worked today against the USA, so we were able to get this win,” said the 25-year-old Miyaura on their third consecutive win.

VNL2024-Kento-Miyaura-7616 Kento Miyaura leads Japan to sweep of USA in VNL prelims finale 2024 VNL Season News Volleyball  - philippine sports news

Both teams fielded their second units for the match, and at the onset, Japan’s game plan at the service line was evident.

The squad fired off six aces in the first set, including the one that gave them the set advantage over the now world no. 5 side.

With better reception from the Americans, the second set turned into a tussle until the deadlock at 23. Kyle Ensing went for the kill, but instead went off the mark, giving Japan the set point.

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From then, Miyaura fired off another attack in transition, leading Japan’s final stand to consequently end with 18 points on 12 attacks, one block, and five service aces.

Masato was impressive with 16 markers on 12 kills and four service aces.

Taishi Onodera added two aces, both in the first set, while Tatsunori Otsuka also chipped in another in that same frame.

“We lost against Canada, but after that, we won three straight. It is a good experience for us and we hope to continue the run,” Miyaura concluded.

VNL2024-Kento-Miyaura-7838 Kento Miyaura leads Japan to sweep of USA in VNL prelims finale 2024 VNL Season News Volleyball  - philippine sports news

Ensing was the lone American in double figures with 14 markers on 13 kills and one block.

Taylor Averill finished with eight points on four each of spikes and blocks, most of which came in that tight second set.

The USA missed out on a third straight VNL Final, bowing out with a 5-7 win-loss record.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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