Japan men handle pressure against Australia in Olympic volleyball qualifier


Japan posted a straight sets (25-22, 25-23, 25-12) victory over Australia on the fifth day of action in the FIVB Men’s Olympic volleyball qualifying tournament at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Thursday.

The result left both sides with records of 3-2.

Tatsuya Fukuzawa and Kota Yamamura powered a relentless Japan attack with 15 points each.

Igor Yudin led Australia with 14 points. Edgar Thomas had 12 in the loss.

Japan seized the momentum in the first set and retained it throughout the match. The hosts were proficient on both offense and defense in the impressive triumph. Japan served especially well on the way to the win.

Australia had trouble with Japan’s quick attack and service reception. The Aussies made several unforced errors during the match and seemed rattled by the raucous sellout crowd.

“I want to thank the players,” Japan coach Tatsuya Ueta said. “They were all focused tonight. We will do our best in our last two games. We will have to be psyched up and united”

“We thought Australia’s serves were softer than China’s, so we tried to take advantage of this,” he added

Shimizu fired the ball into the net as Australia moved out to a 5-3 lead in the first set. A spike by Fukuzawa moved Japan in front 6-5. Kota Yamamura’s spike put Japan up 8-7 at the first TTO. A quick flip by Yamamura made it 10-9 for Japan. Yusuke Ishijima sent a spike long and Australia tied it 13-13.

Moments later, Australian Adam White’s spike leveled it at 19-19. Shimizu put Japan back on top 20-19 before Yamamura’s block gave Japan the set 25-22. Fukuzawa had eight points in the set.

“Our serves and blocks were good. That is why we won. We did not serve well yesterday,” Shimizu said. “”We need to carry the mood from tonight forward into the next matches.”

In the second set, a reception error by Australia put Japan on top 16-15 at the first TTO. A miscue by Australia handed Japan a 20-18 lead. A Shimizu smash gave Japan set point at 24-21 and Australia called a timeout. Ishijima’s spike saw Japan take the set 25-23.

In the third set, Japan routed Australia.

“Our reception attack and transition attack were not working properly tonight,” said Australia coach Jon Uriarte. “Our serves gave us opportunities but we could not take advantage of them.”

“The attack has to be better to win at this level.”

Japan will take on Puerto Rico on Saturday, while Australia will meet Korea.