Volleyball Nations League 2022 Brasilia Men - JPNvsNED-14

An excited Nishida led the Japanese victory in Brasilia

Yuji Nishida’s spectacular performance changed the course of Japan’s opening match in the Volleyball Nations League 2022 as the Asians benefited from their opposite’s game to mount an exciting comeback against the Netherlands in Brasilia, Brazil.

After dropping the first set, the Japanese found their best rhythm and reacted, grinding out a 3-1 (22-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-17) victory in their first match in this year’s edition of the tournament.

· Watch all VNL 2022 matches live on Volleyball TV.

With a match-high 25 points, the left-handed Nishida won the scoring battle with Dutch opposite Nimir Abdel-Aziz, the top scorer of last year’s VNL, who produced 18 points (17 kills, one ace) for the European side.

The 22-year-old Nishida was unstoppable at the net, scoring 23 of his 25 points in kills and hitting to a 43.24% efficiency rate. The Japanese star also tallied one block and one ace.

“The first match is always very difficult,” he commented after the match. “I think our team had a very good performance in the second set. We avoided making mistakes and that helped. Tomorrow’s match (against China) will also be very difficult and important too and our focus has to be on avoiding mistakes. I feel we’re not at our 100% now, we’re probably at about 60% of our potential. It was important that we got all three points and step by step, we’ll get to the level we want.”

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The opposite used his creativity to score Japan’s seventh point in the first set with an intelligent tip. He registered his only block point in the match at the start of the second set, when he stopped Dutch outside hitter Maarten van Garderen to score 3-1. Fittingly, it was Nishida who scored the game-winning point for the Japanese with a powerful hit down the line that gave Dutch libero Robbert Andringa no chance to react.

The turning point of the match was the final portion of the second set. The Dutch built a 23-18 lead and were in a position to produce a two-set advantage and remain in control, but the Japanese counted on the inspired plays of middle blocker Go Murayama, who produced four of his 12 points in the match (two kills, one block and one ace) to dismantle the Europeans and take the set 26-24.

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Captain Yuki Ishikawa also ended the match with 12 points after he tallied six kills, a match-high five blocks and one ace. Van Garderen was the most productive Dutch player after Abdel-Aziz with 14 points (12 kills and two blocks).

On Thursday, at 15.00 local time (18.00 GMT), the Japanese will play for their second victory in the VNL 2022 against continental rivals China.