KOMAKI, AICHI PREF. – Argentina improved its record to 4-3 with a straight sets victory (25-21, 25-20, 25-15) over Japan in their FIVB World League Pool D opener at Komaki Park Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The South Americans exhibited an impressive power game throughout the contest as they peppered the court with spike after spike and passed well.
Japan had trouble with reception and dealing with the strength of its opposition in the defeat and fell to 0-7 with the defeat.
Lucas Ocampo (16 points) and Sebastian Sole (10 points) paced Argentina in the victory.
Yu Koshikawa was the high scorer for Japan in the loss with 12, while Kunihiro Shimizu added 10.
“It was a challenge for us after the long journey to play,” said Argentina coach Julio Velasco. “I asked the players to concentrate and play good volleyball and they did.”
Velasco, who coached Iran to two Asian volleyball championships before taking over Argentina in April, praised his team’s effort on this day.
“I think our performance was good in all aspects,” he said. “We had good balance all around; in passing/receiving, attacking/blocking and offense/defense. I hope we can play well again tomorrow.”
Japan coach Masashi Nambu recognized that his team was anxious as it took the court.
“It was obvious that the players were nervous,” he said. “Home matches bring a different kind of pressure. We did not play our usual style. We were completely overwhelmed.”
Japan was missing outside attacker Tatsuya Fukuzawa, who sprained an ankle in practice on Friday, and setter Hideomi Fukatsu, who was hurt against Argentina last weekend.
A nice block by Kongo Oh helped stake Japan to a 4-2 lead in the opening set. Argentina responded with three straight points for 5-4. A spike by Federico Pereyra made it 7-6 for Argentina. The South Americans were up 8-7 at the first technical time out.
Javier Filardi’s spike put Argentina up 12-8 and Japan called a timeout. A Yamato Fushimi spike took the score to 13-10. It was 14-11 after an unforced error by Japan. Shimizu could not handle a spike and Argentina was on top 16-11 at the second TTO.
A nice dink by Ocampo put Argentina ahead 17-12. Shunsuke Chijiki served into the net to make it 19-14 for the visitors. A reception error took the count to 21-16 and Japan called a timeout. Japan pulled within three points at 21-18 following a net violation. Sole soared for a spike to put his side up 23-19. Sole gave Argentina the set 25-21 with one more spike. Ocampo had six points in the set.
Koshikawa’s crosscourt spike put Japan up 5-3 in the second set. Argentina pulled with 5-4 after a Sole spike ended an extended rally. A spike by Naoya Shiraiwa saw Japan take an 8-7 lead into the first TTO.
The score was even at 10-10 after a Shimizu spike. A block by Shinji Takahashi made it 12-12. A Sole block pushed Argentina ahead 14-13. Ocampo’s attack put Argentina up 16-14 at the second TTO.
Pereyra drove a spike down the line for 18-15. Shimizu sent a spike wide and Argentina was up 20-16. Filardi sent a spike into a big opening in the Japan defense and Argentina was within three points of the set at 22-18. A Jose Luis Gonzalez block made it 23-18 and Japan called a timeout to try and change the momentum. Ocampo’s spike took it to 24-20. Argentina then took the set 25-20 on a net violation.
An Ocampo spike staked Argentina to a 6-5 lead in the third set. Japan fought back to go up 7-6 on a Koshikawa spike. A reception error by Japan saw Argentina up 8-7 at the first TTO.
Chijiki could not handle an Argentina serve and it was 13-8 as Japan struggled to maintain contact. Argentina was up 16-11 at the second TTO.
Japan took a timeout while trailing 18-12. Martin Ramos connected with a spike for 22-13 as Argentina moved to close out the match. A Koshikawa spike made it 22-15 but the outcome appeared inevitable. Argentina closed it out with one final spike 25-15.
The two-match series concludes on Sunday afternoon.