Hiroshima, Japan, September 8, 2015 – Yuki Ishikawa was instrumental in attack as Japan needed all five sets to defeat Egypt 3-2 (25-19, 23-25, 25-18, 17-25, 15-7) in the final match on day one of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup 2015 in Hiroshima.
The 20-year-old scored 24 points for his side, but the hosts did suffer under the Egyptian serve, with the visitors taking 10 aces to four.
Japan, supported by several thousand home fans, began the match well with their lead stretching out to 20-14 following a block from Kunihiro Shimizu. Two serve errors and an ace from Egypt saw the current African champions draw to within four points, however that was the end of the fightback as Japan sided-out before clinching their first set point with ease.
Egypt stepped up a gear in the second, keeping Japan in their sights at the first technical timeout, trailing by two points at 8-6. They gained the lead for the first time, a successful line challenge taking them to 12-10 before Japan turned the tables to move ahead themselves. But two powerful Egypt attacks took the world No.15 to match point which they duly converted to make the score 1-1.
It remained close in the third, but Japan kept the edge, with some huge serves from Ishikawa providing a good platform to attack from as the hosts went into the second technical timeout 16-12 up. Ishikawa and Shimizu continued to rock the Egyptian defence with some quick attacks and, with Japan’s block continuing to have the edge, all it took was an Ahmed Abdelhay line error to see Japan move to within one set of victory.
Egypt were not leaving the venue without a fight though, as they took control at 5-4 following a huge block from Mamdouh Abdelrahim. They continued to extend their lead to 21-14, with Japan’s serve beginning to lose power. Egypt’s momentum and Japan’s lack of a foothold in the match eventually resulted in match point, and the visitors needed just three chances to convert it and take the game to a deciding set.
The Japanese fans became more vocal than ever in the final frame and their support was rewarded on court as the world No.20 went 4-1 up, forcing Egypt coach Nehad Shehata into a timeout. However it failed to help, with the Japanese block improving as Egyptian heads began to drop. A serve error from Egypt gave Japan a first match point, but they needed to side out one last time before a spike from Yako, his first of the game, giving the hosts the win.