Osaka, Japan, September 16, 2015 – Japan began their second round FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Cup campaign in style
in style with a straight sets (25-21, 25-19, 25-19) win over Tunisia in front of an electric crowd in Osaka.
They may have given up more error points than their African counterparts, 18 to 14 in total, but captain Kunhiro Shimizu led from the front with 23 points for the hosts from five aces, two blocks and 16 spikes.
Japan had lost twice to Tunisia at previous World Cups (2003 and 2007) and looked determined to change that as they took an early lead at 11-7. Tunisia had a run of points thanks to Japanese errors to take the lead 13-12. However Japan rallied on the sold out crowd and although Tunisia always stayed in touch, the set win was never in doubt after superb Daisuke Sakai dig from the tape and a block error concluded the frame 25-21.
Those Japanese nerves early in set one were nowhere to be found come the second set, and they quickly asserted themselves with a 7-4 lead. They extended this to 16-10 as Tunisia looked to be struggling from the lightening quick attacks hit their way by youngster Yuki Ishikawa and captain Kunhiro Shimizu. Tunisia tried to find a foothold, but Japan consistently sided out, and ended the set in such a manner, a block error putting them two-up.
It was all Japan again in the third, as they kept a tight grip on the match, leading 8-6 at the first technical timeout. However, coach Nambu Masashi needed to call a timeout to help the world No.20 regroup after Tunisia looked to catch up on 18-16. Shimizu ended the match in glorious fashion with two brilliant aces to clinch a fourth victory.