Yuki Ishikawa brought energy to Japan's attack today
Okayama, Japan, May 30, 2015 - Yuki Ishikawa led Japan to a victory in his hometown on Saturday. Japan dropped the first set against a tough Czech Republic squad today, but showed composure bouncing back to take the match 3-1 (21-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-20).
Czech Republic's head coach Zdenek Smejkal was impressed with Japan’s effort, but also felt his side needed to fight harder in this match:
“After the first set when we were in the game, we made lots of mistakes, and we did many stupid things. The Japan team just took the game their way because of this. The last three sets were very much about the fighting and energy on the court, and this was the biggest difference. We congratulate the Japan team on this first win.”
When asked about Japan’s younger players, he added: “Yuki Ishikawa is a really interesting player. We know him from last year, and he plays at a high level. he has a big future.”
Czech Republic's team captain Ales Holubec echoed this sentiment:
“It’s difficult to say something (after this loss). It’s painful, because after the first set I really believed we’d win today. I’m not satisfied with our game today. On the Japan side, there was lots of energy and team play, I think we must work harder and start with more energy. That was the main point for me.”
Meanwhile, Japan’s head coach Masashi Nambu was delighted to start World League play with a win, but knows that his teams effort could have been better:
“It’s great winning this first game of World Leage competition, but we couldn’t really do what we hoped to do in this match. It wasn’t a complete game. Our players were responsible for their positions, and that was good – they did their best. After start of training camp in Japan, we only had training matches within the team, with no (external) opponents. So it was really good that we could compete against this bigger team. I suspect they might have some jet lag after their long trip, and I think maybe their condition is not the best. I really expect they will be much improved tomorrow.”
Japan's team captain Kunihiro Shimizu was also happy with his team effort today, sporting an icepack on his left hitting shoulder having led his team by example with a hard hitting attack today:
“This is my first match as captain of the Japan national team, and I really tried to lead by performing well on the court, not so much by being vocal. The older players like (Daisuke) Sakai and (Takeshi) Nagano helped me a lot. I think we felt good today, and we could play in a rather good mental state.
His younger teammate Yuki Ishikawa also stepped up today, and brought incredible energy to his side:
“I tried to motivate the team today as best I could, because I think younger players like myself really need to bring energy to our game. I have some experience playing in Italy at Modena, and so I feel confident playing against the bigger Europeans like this Czech team. But I think we can still play better than today, and that includes me.”