This time, it’s Japan vs. Korea. The South Korean and Japanese women’s volleyball teams will face off in Brazil.

South Korea and Japan will face off in Week 2 of the 2023 FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) at the Nielsen Nelson Arena in Brasilia, Brazil, at 5:30 a.m. ET on June 16.안전놀이터

South Korea is currently 0-3 in its first match of Week 2 against Brazil, following 0-3 losses against Turkiye, Canada, USA and Thailand in Week 1. It is the fifth consecutive tournament without a win and is in last place in the 16-team field. Croatia, originally ranked 16th, went 1-3 against the United States, but earned a set and a set loss advantage. Croatia moved up to 15th place. The tournament’s tiebreakers are No. 14 Netherlands, Croatia, and South Korea. South Korea is the only team with a scoreless set.

Japan is seventh in the tournament with a 3-2 record (10 points). In Week 1 at home, the team collected three wins against the Dominican Republic (3-1), Croatia (3-0), and Bulgaria (3-0). A 0-3 loss to China closed out the week. Traveling to Brazil, Japan had to settle for one point in a 2-3 loss to first-time opponent Serbia in Week 2.

While South Korea made a number of changes to their 14-man roster heading into Week 2, Japan also had some new faces. Japan’s starting outside hitter Mayu Ishikawa has been in the roster since Week 2. Middle blocker Nichika Yamada is also new to the roster. The addition of the two players gives Japan a boost.

Ishikawa came off the bench against Serbia. She briefly replaced middle blocker Ayaka Araki in the third and fourth sets, and was replaced by captain and outside hitter Sarina Nishida in the fifth set, scoring four points. According to the Japan Volleyball Association, Ishikawa said after the match, “Today I was inserted in the middle of the game. I need to make up for my missed serves and make sure I can continue to be responsible for scoring points.” Ishikawa’s worries about her decision-making showed the ace’s sense of responsibility.

Earlier, head coach Masayoshi Manabe explained why he left Ishikawa out of the Week 1 roster, saying, “She is tired. He will miss the Nagoya tournament due to poor physical condition,” he said, predicting a return in Week 2.

After completing the 2022-23 season in Japan, Ishikawa decided to move to Florence in the Italian women’s top flight this year. She will play alongside her sister, Yuki Ishikawa, in the Italian top flight. A decision made for ‘growth’ After the announcement of her move, Ishikawa referenced the group stage exit at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Japan lost to South Korea in the quarterfinals of the tournament. In the fifth set, Ishikawa missed a left attack that gave South Korea a chance to fight back. Ishikawa’s heart was broken and she was ready for a new challenge.

Of course, after the Tokyo Olympics, Ishikawa had a breakout performance at the 2022 VNL Korea. Japan swept South Korea 3-0, with Nishida and Ishikawa scoring 22 and 14 points respectively. Kang So-hwi and Park Jung-ah added 11 and 7 points for South Korea. Japan looked strong with the same squad from the Tokyo Olympics and outrebounded Korea 49-26 in team offense.

Ishikawa returns to the VNL in 2023. It will be interesting to see if he starts against Japan.

In Ishikawa’s absence, Japan went with a trio of Nishida, outside hitter Arisa Inoue and Hayashi Kotona. The starting setter is 171cm Seki Nanami, born in 1999. Japan’s team colors are clear. They play speed volleyball with a tight organization. As if that weren’t enough, they also have an effective serve as a weapon to overcome their height disadvantage. Ahead of the VNL, Manabe said, “Our offensive and defensive numbers are world-class. Serving is the key.”

South Korea will also need to be prepared for Japan’s serve. Conversely, they need to use their sharp serves to crack Japan’s organization. Korea had to deal with injuries to setter Kim Dain and libero Shin Yeon-kyung heading into week two, but the boldness of newly named setter Kim Ji-won and outside hitter Kim Da-eun shone through. Starting against Brazil, Kim Ji-won’s game management was steady, and Kim Da-eun’s offense was free. However, they were unable to keep the momentum going for long. They couldn’t get over the deuce hump in the first set and lost in three sets.

This raises more questions about Korea’s starting lineup for the Korea-Japan match. Setter Yeom Hye-sun started against Turkiye and Canada in Week 1 and 2, while Kim Dain took the court first against the United States and Thailand. There is no set starter. Coach Cesar has given several players a chance. Against Brazil, outside hitters Park Jung-ah and Pyo Seung-ju were rested. At the same time, Kim Da-eun was used as an outside hitter and Jeong Ji-yoon as an outside hitter. The team has been using various combinations of players. This is why we are curious about the starting lineup for the Korea-Japan match.

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