Read the full story on SportsLook - Japan Earns Bronze Medal in Men's Volleyball Nations League
Facing reigning world champion Italy, Japan jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third-place match of the FIVB Men's Volleyball Nations League on Sunday, July 23.
Japan coach Philippe Blain's squad did not panic after dropping the next two sets as momentum shifted to Italy.
Instead, Japan's teamwork, talent and determination were interlocking defining characteristics of the decisive fifth set. Japan prevailed 25-18, 25-23, 17-25, 17-25, 15-9 in Gdansk, Poland.
The bronze medalist's impressive effort in the fifth set was a vivid snapshot of its overall performance in the 16-team Volleyball Nations League, which got underway on June 6. Japan finished with a 12-3 record in the tournament, which was held in seven host cities. It included preliminary rounds in Nagoya, as well as Orleans, France, and Pasay, Philippines, before the competition shifted to Poland.
Finals host Poland defeated the United States 25-23, 24-26, 25-18, 25-18 in Sunday's championship final.
Most notably, Japan earned its first medal at a major global competition since claiming the bronze at the 2009 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup, an event that was replaced by the Volleyball Nations League in 2018.
Before the 2009 competition, the Japan men's national team had experienced notable (and incremental) success in the 1960s and '70s on the global stage: a bronze at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, followed by a silver and a gold at the 1968 Mexico City Games and 1972 Munich Games. In addition, Japan was the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup runner-up in 1969 and 1977.
Upcoming Competitions for Japan
Now, the team known to its loyal fans as "Ryujin Nippon," which means the Japanese Dragon God, has raised expectations for more success in a pair of upcoming competitions.
In the coming days, Japan will begin preparations for the Asian Men's Volleyball Championship (August 18-26) in Tehran.
And the 24-team FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup will be held in Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Xi'an, China, from September 30 to October 8. The top two finishers in each pool will automatically qualify for the tournament at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Japan was ninth in the 2019 World Cup.
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Author: Ed Odeven