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Tiebreaker Times

2024 VNL Season

Yuki Ishikawa urges Japan to ‘play hard’ in Ran Takahashi’s absence

By: Ernest Tuazon

Japan team captain Yuki Ishikawa urged his team to continue pushing themselves to maintain a high standard of volleyball play after fan favorite Ran Takahashi was ruled out for the remainder of the 2024 FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Manila leg.

The Japan Volleyball Association announced that Shoma Tomita would replace Takahashi in the nation’s VNL lineup prior to their game against the Netherlands.

Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Tats Suzara told reporters that Takahashi has left the Philippines due to a nagging knee injury.

“I can’t say much, but we have to play without him… With or without injury, and Ran [Takahashi], we still have to always play hard,” Ishikawa said.

“He isn’t here. And today, what’s important is we got the win, so we are happy.”

VNL-2022-Japan-vs.-Argentina-Ran-Takahashi-9242-1 Yuki Ishikawa urges Japan to ‘play hard’ in Ran Takahashi’s absence 2024 VNL Season News Volleyball  - philippine sports news

Ishikawa and Japan overcame Takahashi’s absence by fending off the Netherlands to return to the VNL win column, 25-18, 25-19, 25-15, on Friday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The 28-year-old team captain lauded Japan’s efforts in improving their playstyle in their bounce-back win after narrowly losing in a five-set match to Canada.

“Today was an improvement for us because we lost against Canada, and we should focus on our momentum and our style of play, especially during the second sets. We won 3-0, so that is an improvement for us,” he said.

The win further increased Japan’s chances of securing a ticket to the VNL quarterfinals with a 7-3 record, placing them fifth, tied with Olympic hosts France.

Japan will next face France to break the tie in the VNL standings and to further solidify their slot in the Final Round tonight.

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