Japan Women's NT 2021

  • I beg to differ. Brazilian players go overseas for a couple of reasons. A bigger paycheck but also tougher competition. The Japanese league is a good league, but better players are outside of Japan. KYK left South Korea to play in Japan. From there she went to Turkey. She’s been good for so long.

    Think of it like the NBA, why is it the best basketball league in the world? It is where all of the stars play. Can you be a successful player and not play in it, yes. However do you want to challenge yourself against the best, then you need there.

    I agree with the statement "better players make you better" but it begs the question: What do you mean by "better players"? Bigger stronger attackers? In what other way is Boskovic a better player than Sarina Koga? (okay, serve lol)


    You can't 'learn' bigger stronger. To say it worked for KYK or Zhu Ting means nothing to Ruriko Uesaka. People bring up the two big (not Japanese) guns that were practically born world class. Any other examples? If a player like Rino Murooka was 187cm she would benefit from playing in Turkey 1 or Italy 1 ... but Azerbaijan?


    Gabi and Britt Herbots. They're Japanese sized and kill harder than every Japanese player because they choose to. But in what other way are they any better than Yuki Ishii?


    I'm convinced that this repulsive, measured swing approach, so grossly on display in the OGs, is taught/required/whatever. Watch HS, Uni, V2, or 9-ball and you see players swinging like Gabi all the time. It gets removed from players who want to work their way up the food chain.


    Of course there is something to be said of playing in a more intense environment where the opposing team is sending the ball your way at greater speeds. But that's not where very many Japanese players need improvement. Could Japanese liberos learn a thing or two from Moki? Sure, but that's just a saying. It's not something that's likely to actually happen.


    Japan needs more players like the Ohno sisters :) If you get, you get it.


    Japan's problems are attitudinal. They have no violence in attack (which is an attitude deficiency, not physical weakness) and this current squad is simply not in love with floor defense.


    Having said all that, a case could me made which I wouldn't oppose that Mami Uchiseto improved a little since she came back from Europe (and I have no idea if she even played or not). And by "improved" I mean she's a little pissier in her attack. Did her reception or floor defense improve? Nope. Did her blocking improve? She's 170cm. I think her mental attitude also "improved", and has likely been nudged along by Antônio Marcos Lerbach.


    Playing in a very select few places in Europe would be a good thing for a very select few Japanese players who are willing or able to get a little pissier. Sadly there are not very many of them.*


    Could any of Japan's middle-blockers improve if they played alongside BRA's Carols, TUR's Duo, even Italy's MBs? Absolutely yes! Is THAT ever going to actually happen? No.


    * I might spend a few minutes thinking of who they might. Rei Kudo comes to mind; Rino Murooka; Minami Takaso -- don't deny it until you try it; V1 is tough. I can think of a dozen in V2, Uni and 9-ball. Go watch 172cm HS junior Risa Yajima swing.


    Watch these pages to see if NEC's Hina Kawakami makes the NT. She is super soft, great receiver, likes defense, and makes the Kurogo look like Britt Herbots when she swings.

  • Actually Azerbaijan's league used to be quite good. Idk if it's just because they're smaller and less wealthy you consider it irrelevant but it used to be good, that hasn't got much to do with how good your league can be. Now it's dead though. Yeah by now it won't add anything anymore and I'm not even sure if the league still exists even.


    Other than that I don't really get your point 😂 I think what you mean is that the game style and mentality of those players in foreign leagues won't match most Japanese ones but that's exactly one of the issues if you ask me... They are very limited as players and it's in many ways. Like I said we already live in quite a tiny world and not even being willing to seeing the waters across of you will severely limit you not just as a player but as a person, the attitudal issues arise with that. There is more examples of this, like Goncharova who never wanted to leave Russia.


    I don't get what you mean about Gabi and how she is more like Japanese high school players 😂


    Besides the fact that they lacked power and their defense was nowhere where we expect from the Japanese girls this cycle another thing I noticed was the lack of creativity. Japan played the most conservative game I've seen from them yet. Which brings me to another set of players who did wonderful going abroad and who aren't hitting particularly hard or are tall. The Thai girls!! They were oozing experience while moving all around and hands down showed one of the most creative games the volleyball world had seen yet inspiring trainers like Santarelli, Guidetti etc. even.


    I personally agree that V1 is a great league and can be higher level in many ways than even the leagues considered top level. But I also have to say you take a very simplistic approach on what it means to play abroad. If it was just going to another league and playing with a set of players, sure. It's a once in a lifetime experience in reality that realistically will always add to a player, let alone considering the opponents and teammates quality and besides that the high-stakes matches.


    Taking risks and going outside your comfort zone is exactly that what improves people in pretty much any field. As much as I get systems, they actually never work when they aren't flexible. Not like you think.

  • The lack of creativity, isn't that intentional given their decision to move towards a western style? If they insist on their course, I wonder if it's a good idea to naturalize a giant terminal opposite at this time?

    Additionally, perhaps they could meat up too, especially in the upper body. I read some years back that the Japanese are fast-twitch-muscle-dominant, which means that they are naturally fast-reacting. However, this also means that they are naturally physiologically weaker than slow-twitch-muscle-dominant peoples like most Caucasians.

  • user I'm not against broadening one's horizons or personal growth. Gee whiz. I'm pro-people becoming better people. I promise :) But I want to just stipulate that and talk game.


    I want a story with observations and anecdotes about a Japanese player who played abroad and what it did for their game and or their Team, especially because this always seems tied to playing with "better" players


    Really, the problem here is that I can't read or speak Japanese :rolll:


    Apologies to Azerbaijan. Truly

  • Japan's problems are attitudinal. They have no violence in attack (which is an attitude deficiency, not physical weakness) and this current squad is simply not in love with floor defense.

    Yeah, i do understand your point of views and also quite agree with some of the points, especially the above one. I think this is the main issue that Japan need to encounter. Its like theres no aura of 'violence' when they are attacking or spiking

  • Height as one factor I think. We all know Japan is one of the smallest, and if they are so used to competing to people at the same height with them, they are not that forced to be creative with their attacks than when facing taller opponents. When they go outside, they are forced to always compete and find ways to score with the taller blockers. I'm not sure if it works with the womens since there are not much precedents since Saori did not perform well before, but for the men's it's very visible with the game smarts of Yuki Ishikawa. I'm totally fine if the players choose to not leave of course, but I also believe it is a good decision to try to go out atleast once in your career. There are always something to learn in a new environment.

  • Kimura had a meh season in Italy, and so did China's Yang Hao. I'm not completely sure why, but from what I understand it was partly due to their insufficient ability to adapt.

    That's the part I want to learn about. Adapt to what? Do you mean bottom line of living abroad, the food, the timezone, the language, the distance from mom? Or things like block-defense strategies, how high first pass should be, and the like?

  • That's the part I want to learn about. Adapt to what? Do you mean bottom line of living abroad, the food, the timezone, the language, the distance from mom? Or things like block-defense strategies, how high first pass should be, and the like?

    The system of volleyball there in general. Kimura was not entirely useless, though, as her passing was enough to earn her some court time.

  • I didnt get to follow Saori’s club career. Where had she played and how did she do overall? I remember she had a book about living in Turkey. Did she do well there?

    In Turkey she was hired to play as starter but benched to Sonsirma / Brakocevic / Glinka. She was used more in the service line.

  • I've mentioned a few times here that one of the things I believe bloomed Sarina Koga this past year is ... on the NEC web site their new "Sports Director" (I believe) said one of his prime goals was to get Sarina out of her comfort zone, out of her head. He said he was going to shove her , virtually , via zoom if he had to (there was a pandemic), out in front of people.


    This seems like a micro version of "broadening your horizons" macro.


    I get it. I believe in it. And Sarina is an illustration for me of how "becoming a broader person" makes you a better volleyball player.


    Or she just switched to Wheaties for breakfast and I read way too much into that pep talk :lol:

  • I do agree with Sitenoise. While the idea of working abroad would definitely be a great idea for Japanese players, I do not think that it will defiantly improve a player's game, or especially improve their chances in the national team. From the player's I had known to have played abroad, mostly libero's had really had a great career abroad, because they do a simple job- Defend. It is different for pins. They are built different than almost other international pins. They are smaller and while defensively able, their defense and offense is built specifically to supplement a great defensive team. They are also underdeveloped physically. In fact, some of these players are used only for defensive purposes and thus never really considered a long career playing abroad. There is a reason why only few Japanese spikers have truly played in major leagues.

    The closest players comparatively to Japanese height, who had a relatively long career abroad, are the likes of Yumilka Ruiz, Fe Garay, Gabi, and that Bosetti sister, who are ultimately stronger both offensively and defensively than almost all Japanese pins. And all can handle the Physicality of an offense-based systems.


    Also, I found that internationally experienced players tends retrained, and refamiliarized with the Japanese "style" of play [from what I had read in the forums]. Making the change ultimately useless since the styles of plays does not conform with each other. The knowledge does not really transfer as the system does not permit it. In addition, I would argue against foreign play is that there seems to a weird "taboo" when doing it. A lot of players who had played abroad, had not really translated well for their national team chances. Only Kimura, Okumura and maybe Nagaoka had a fairly notable NT career after playing abroad[1].

    In the end, I would argue is that they need to at least try what the men's team did. Create a system that is willing to learn from foreign counterpart. The level of play of Japan is strong still BUT Nakada's action towards Tokyo 2020 shows a huge problem. The old guards are hindering the growth of female volleyball. Currently, I think Japan is too obsessed with "defense" and "speed" that they do not realize that there is some much more to improve on. On paper, the Tokyo 2020 first 6 [ONLY] is much better than the Rio 2016 team BUT unlike the RIO team, they faltered. Defense and Offence is phenomenal BUT they do not have the urgency that Saori, Nabeya and Nagaoka had. Problems like the lack of presence in the middle is still an ongoing problem. DOM practically just run their middle AND Japan's digging was in shambles. OOS plays is almost always free balls. Small players practically cannot spike on any well build block. Maybe the growth this team need, is where it all starts. The coaching and system, MUST improve. Height must be injected in the grass root level. Muscle training can definitely improved. A different approach in offense must be delivered AND ultimately a coach who had a winning mindset must be chosen. I know this is a lot more easy to write than implement but there are great coaches who had done it with much lesser teams and lesser resources (see Guidetti's and Laverini's team). Japan can definitely do it too.

    PS: [1]I know , my last argument might come off as an unfair sentiment given the biggest Japanese players had not played abroad yet BUT you need to understand that while it will give them a chance to play with the big guns, it also would not really benefit them if they do not really start for their respective teams.
    [2] I do think that Thailand league is the only country that Japanese players might retain what they had learned as they are similarly paced and very defense based.

  • I didnt get to follow Saori’s club career. Where had she played and how did she do overall? I remember she had a book about living in Turkey. Did she do well there?

    She played on Vakifbank after London 2012, basically was a starter, but she couldn't keep up with the playing style, so most of the time Naz' sets to her were a bit off. After that, she moved to Galatasaray for two years I believe, but yeah, same situation as to what happened on Vakifbank. After that, she returned to Toray I think. So in conclusion, it's all down with the playing style hence she performed poorly.

  • I feel like there can be opportunity for the Japanese aboard and opportunities for development.


    Look at Kelsey. She's not the offensive juggernaut that other OH's are. She makes her contribution from passing and defense. She can hold down a 2 person serve receive. She's smart and uses her skills to the best she can. And makes a lot of money doing so, for clubs around Europe and Asia now.


    I don't know the V league as well as all of you (obviously) but from an American perspective (with no league) that going and experiencing the nuances of different leagues, is something that has been super helpful for the USA NT.


    Playing in Russia, Larson got accustomed to playing against their high block but also their slow offense. It was something where she had to adapt from Hugh's lightning fast offense. To then Turkey, which she played with great setters/OHs/Opposites, where she wasn't the offensive star all of the time to China and their style of play.


    Foluke's played around all of Europe, adapting to their leagues but then to Japan and learning how to defend against combinations, players that are faster than she is so she has to learn to read the game better, etc.


    I think the Japanese style and players could offer a lot to the international leagues. But again to sitenoise's point, it might not be the best fit for this current generation of players. You know a lot more than I do :teach:

  • She played on Vakifbank after London 2012, basically was a starter, but she couldn't keep up with the playing style, so most of the time Naz' sets to her were a bit off. After that, she moved to Galatasaray for two years I believe, but yeah, same situation as to what happened on Vakifbank. After that, she returned to Toray I think. So in conclusion, it's all down with the playing style hence she performed poorly.

    IIRC, the issue with Saori at Turkey back then was probably the miscommunication between her, the setter and the coach. She did hint a very slight complaint on an interview that the coach line kept asking her to swing harder but the set she got was not as in plan or practice :roll:.

  • IIRC, the issue with Saori at Turkey back then was probably the miscommunication between her, the setter and the coach. She did hint a very slight complaint on an interview that the coach line kept asking her to swing harder but the set she got was not as in plan or practice :roll:.

    Funny enough Naz Akyol also had issues with KimYK so much so that the team had to choose between her and Kim and she left :/


    I know that I will get cancelled for saying this from fellow Turkish community :lol: But she is known for letting her friends perform better...Some would say deliberately

  • Speaking of the NoSmilers, everyone's favorite blogger SaV threw out a few names in addition to LoveBunny and Yoshihara as possibles to take over for Nakada:

    1. Kiyoshi Abo = lots of U-Squad coaching experience, worked with Manabe, now Himeji's GM. You'll recognize him. I don't like him, but he never smiles
    2. Akinori Yamada = NEC's Head Coach 2008–2018. Hadn't thought of him but I like the idea. He's lovely :rose:
    3. Akiyoshi Kawamoto = Mr NoSmiler himself :) Maybe he has major issues but: "persistent digs, high-speed combinations, and skillful block-outs is the kind of volleyball foreign teams hate the most". Love that line :!:<3:!:NoSmiler ball :thumbup:

    JVA usually prefers someone with a national title for this position, so the NEC head coach is probably an option too.


    I actually really like Denso's head coach - Kawakita, and would love to see him with team A again. But Denso's performance the last few year was not really good.

    Funny enough Naz Akyol also had issues with KimYK so much so that the team had to choose between her and Kim and she left :/


    I know that I will get cancelled for saying this from fellow Turkish community :lol: But she is known for letting her friends perform better...Some would say deliberately

    I was kinda surpirsed at first to learn that since Turkey fan praised Naz a lot back then. But well, we would never know what exactly happened behind the scene. Nevertheless, Saori said she enjoyed her time in Turkey and mentioning Gözde - the veteran OH with positive feelings.

  • I'm not arguing against going abroad -- except that I might be** :) -- I'm trying to learn, to understand why people always suggest it. I need examples, anecdotes, observations of how/when/why it has done anything.


    I've watched every single second Sarina Koga has played volleyball since 2016 or so. Her personality changed this past year. I've explained what I think contributed to it. I'm onboard with growing your personality, your worldview, your personal life, to improve your volleyball game. I've suggested the same might be true for Mami Uchiseto.


    I'd like to hear of anything similar about the Japanese players who went abroad.

    • Ebata/Nagaoka's trips coincided with injuries, so we can't say much
    • Tominaga and Araki with maternity leave
    • I don't get Maiko Kano at all
    • Yuko Sano became a libero warlord because she went abroad early and often. I'll accept that
    • Saori went at the end of her career
    • Kotoe Inoue came back and played like two liberos at once for Denso but missed the Olympics and we all witnessed the hate towards her game. Don't get me started :cursing:
    • Tashiro. Probably been good for her but I can't say anything specific

    Who else?


    As per usual avid gives examples. They are kind of in reverse, though, and many people have argued that playing in Japan has hurt Foluke's game. But that's the kind of thing I'm asking for


    What are the modern, offensive power game strategies that Japanese players will/can learn? Besides growing bigger and stronger and swinging harder? (I still contend that "muscle mass" isn't Japanese players' weakness. It's attitude. But I'll accept defeat in that argument if need be -- and pretend skinny Nagaoka and Sakoda who can hit the ball hard don't exist)




    ** "persistent digs, high-speed combinations, and skillful block-outs is the kind of volleyball foreign teams hate the most" I say double down on that :thumbup:


    And I really want to emphasize that Japan's defensive shortcomings seem (to me) less about digging Zhu Ting cannonballs and a lot lot lot more to do with letting those stupid little loose balls and tips land in front of the 3 point line. Defense is a culture.