Ran Takahashi Japan VNL Paris Olympics

FILE–Japan’s Ran Takahashi during a VNL 2024 game in Manila. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Japan star Ran Takahashi has already departed Manila to treat his nagging knee injury especially the Paris Olympics just a little over a month away, according to Philippine National Volleyball Federation Tats Suzara.

Takahashi on Friday was shut down for the remainder of the Manila leg of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) and was replaced by Shoma Tomita in the lineup. The Japan Volleyball Association didn’t announce the reason for the switch.

Despite his absence, Yuji Nishida and Yuki Ishikawa carried Japan to a 25-18, 25-19, 25-20 win over the Netherlands Friday evening at Mall of Asia Arena.

READ: Japan star Ran Takahashi out for remainder of VNL 2024

The two players respectfully refused to give more details about Takahashi’s injury but Ishikawa lauded Tatsunori Otsuka, who stepped up with eight points to fill in the void left by their teammate.

Team Japan's Yuji Nishida and Yuki Ishikawa in the VNL Week 3 in Manila

Team Japan’s Yuji Nishida and Yuki Ishikawa in the VNL Week 3 in Manila. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

“I cannot say for the team but we have to play without him. And Otsuka was playing well, so we are so happy, and when someone [has an] injury, we have to play always. So we have a single body,” said Ishikawa, who dropped 15 points off 12 kills, two aces, and a block.

Nishida, who led the Japanese with 16 points, wished Takahashi well.

“This happened, so I hoped that he would come back but it is the situation and it’s more important to have that mentality. Maybe, we were a little bit nervous, I think the guys are keeping the motivation and energy,” Nishida said.

READ: VNL: Ran Takahashi, Japan seek improvement after loss to Canada

“I hope that [Ran] will come back much better at his game and join the team. So, it’s not so long before the Olympics, so, [he’s not in a hurry]. But keep improving step-by-step, for the important games. “

Japan, which improved to a 7-3 record, wraps up its campaign against France on Saturday before battling USA on Sunday at 7 p.m.

“[We have] two more different games coming. But I think we’re at a point where we’re like enjoying [playing] volleyball. So for us to win, [the goal] isn’t like this anymore but it’s more important to enjoy the game. So I keep this mindset like this [for the weekend],” Nishida said.

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