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Canada beats VNL crowd favorite Japan in a five-set thriller

CANADA showed both strength and perseverance against favored powerhouse Japan, 25-21, 20-25, 25-15, 20-25, 15-10, to close out the Manila leg opener of the 2024 Volleyball Men’s Nations League (VNL) with a win on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Stephen Maar unleashed the Japanese side with a game-high 24 markers on 22 attacks and two aces on top of back-to-back 15-point displays from Arthur Szwarc and Eric Loeppky as Canada held onto seventh place at 5-4. .

CAN's Danny Demyanenko

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For Manila debutant Loeppky, entering the first week of a VNL stage in a new country has its pros and cons, but he is happy to make the best of it.

“It’s the first game of the week. “You never know what you’re going to expect, but I think we came out very strong and they (Japan) are a good team, so we fought hard,” he said.

“The fans were great here. It’s my first time in the Philippines so I really enjoyed it, but yeah, I’m really happy that we came out with the win.

Canada continues to build momentum

With their quarter-final spot still in limbo and maintaining high form dating back to the previous leg of the VNL in Fukuoka, Japan came down to Canada for a strong finish in the preliminaries.

“For us it’s consistency. Last week we managed to get big wins, but the next game we struggled a bit. I think this is our next goal: to see how consistently we can play for the next game,” Loeppky added.

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JPN's Ran Takahashi

Japan mainstays Yuji Nishida and captain Yuki Ishikawa suffered a tough defeat with 19 points each as Ran failed to complete Takahashi’s 13-member Ryujin Nippon’s five-set comeback bid. They now drop to sixth place at 6-3.

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