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Japan Defeats Brazil in a Thriller to Remain Unbeaten in the Men's Volleyball Nations League

Captain Yuki Ishikawa leads the way with 27 points as Japan, the world's seventh-ranked team, improves to 7-0 in the Volleyball Nations League.

The Japan national team is on a roll in the FIVB Men's Volleyball Nations League.

Outside hitter and captain Yuki Ishikawa produced a match-high 27 points as Japan beat Brazil three sets to two on Thursday, June 22 to improve to a perfect 7-0 and stay atop the standings with 20 points.

Brazil, the world’s third-ranked team, is now fourth in the standings with a 4-2 record and 13 points.

Kento Miyaura chipped in with 24 points and Ran Takahashi added 21 to power Japan to the 25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 22-25, 18-16 victory in Orleans, France.

Japan, which is ranked seventh in the world, got off to a strong start with five aces in the first set to reach quadruple set point at 24-20. 

Brazil denied the first three opportunities, but Takahashi put an end to the opening set on the fourth.

Japan stepped up its spiking attack in the second set with Ishikawa continuing to lead the offense. As a result, Japan opened up a comfortable lead and kept pace until Takahashi once again scored the winning point.

Volleyball Nations League
Japan's Akihiro Yamauchi (6) vies for a block against Brazil. (VOLLEYBALL WORLD)

Brazil found its pace in the third set when it broke away and never looked back after being tied 5-5. 

Middle blocker Flavio Gualberto nailed three blocks for points and playmaker Bruno Rezende added another before outside hitter Ricardo Lucarelli nailed the winner as the Brazilians leveled after four.

Volleyball Nations League
Japan's Kento Miyaura (right) and Brazil's Henrique Honorato in action. (VOLLEYBALL WORLD)

Tiebreaker Decides Volleyball Nations League Match

Miyaura gave his team a slight lead in the tiebreaker. But the gap never exceeded two points and the set went to overtime where Takahashi sealed the win with a superb block-out shot for 18-16.

"We trained a lot for this match against Brazil," Takahashi said.

He added, "We came out to give everything on the court. … Brazil have a lot of great players and we are a young team, still growing up, but it doesn't matter. We had to play our volleyball."

Volleyball Nations League
Volleyball fans hold signs to show support for the Japan men's national team. (VOLLEYBALL WORLD)

Japan next faces Argentina (4-2) on Saturday in another Week 2 match.

The Volleyball Nations League features three weeks of preliminary competition where the top 16 teams in the world play four matches a week. At the end of the preliminary round, the top eight teams advance to the finals.

RELATED (Women's Nations League coverage):

Author: Jim Armstrong

The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.

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