DAY 1 STUNNER | Canada upsets Japan in VNL 5-set thriller

World no. 12 Canada prevailed over world no. 3 Japan in a five-set thriller. Jade Moya
By John Rhey Piamonte

PASAY--Starting their campaign on a high note, world no. 12 Canada banked on a superb late-game surge to stun Japan on the opening day of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Pasay leg on Tuesday evening at the packed Mall of Asia Arena.

With them still fighting to stay above the cut-off for the finals in Lodz next week, the North Americans played their hearts out throughout the five-set thriller, routing Japan, 25-21, 20-25, 25-15, 20-25, 15-10.

Currently, at the seventh spot, Canada improved to 5-4 in the team standings to keep their place in the finals picture, while Japan suffered their third loss in the tournament against six wins.

Canada started the game strong, overpowering the Japanese right at the get-go, with opposite hitter Stephen Maar pouring in eight early points to lead his team to a 25-21 opening-set win.

Maar topped the scoring chart for Canada as the 29-year-old scored 24 points, with 22 of those coming from attacks. 

The Paris-bound Japan team found its groove in the second set, with Ran Takahashi scoring consecutive service aces, which gave them some breathing room at 18-14. It was then their team captain Yuki Ishikawa who finished things off, nailing a cross-court, 25-20.

The Tuomas Sammelvuo-headed theme then dropped a 4-0 run that dictated the tempo of the third set and never looked back from, paving their way to a 2-1 sets lead.

Japan fought their way back in the fourth with Yuji Nishida capping their comeback surge with a service ace, 20-25 to force a set 5 decider.

But in the end, the Canadians yet again rode on to their net defense, nailing game-clinching block points to seal the deal at 15-10.

Canada will look to keep their momentum in their match against Germany this Thursday. On the other hand, Japan will look to bounce back against the Netherlands this upcoming Friday.

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