Florence, Italy, September 14, 2018 - Slovenia claimed their second victory in Pool A to stay in contention for a spot in the next round in what is their maiden appearance at the Men’s World Championship. Their captain Tine Urnaut played an excellent game, scoring 19 points for a 60% success rate in attack. Slovenia scored as many as 13 blocks in their matchup with Japan, with Jan Kozamernik registering 11 points, including four blocks. Japan showed good defence and Yuki Ishikawa with 15 points was the last one to surrender as Slovenia pulled out a 3-1 victory (25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 25-13).
Slovenia started slowly and Japan stormed to a 3-0 lead, however this time Slovenia did not need a full set to find their rhythm as it happened in the match with the Dominican Republic. Slovenia showed a well-placed block, and made it difficult for the Japanese spikers. Japan made several mistakes with their serve and their coach Yuichi Nakagaichi tried to stop Slovenia with a double substitution, but it was not enough and Slovenia secured a 25-20 win. The big difference was in blocking, with six points for Slovenia (three from Kozamernik) and zero for Japan.
In the second set, Yuji Nishida replaced Masahiro Yanagida in the Japanese starting six. Japan showed some amazing combinations from their outside hitters to claim a 16-12 lead at the second technical timeout. Nishida sealed a 25-22 win for Japan as they capitalised on 10 errors from their opponents. The Japanese improved their attack from 48 to 68% and perfect reception from 25 to 50%.
In the third set, Tatsuya Fukuzawa and Ishikawa scored many points for Japan but Slovenia edged ahead 16-14 at the second technical break. Japan coach Nakagaichi called a timeout at 14-18 after two long and spectacular actions but Slovenia claimed more points with Mitja Gasparini and Urnaut. Japan made as many as 10 mistakes to help Slovenia lead 2-1 in the match.
Slovenia slowly but surely claimed an 8-4 lead in the fourth set; three service mistakes in a row followed by three impeccable side-outs maintained the gap before Klemen Cebulj brought the White-and-Blues to 16-9. Slovenia made as many as 16 service mistakes in the end, but at the same time recorded six aces, including three in the last set. Alen Sket stepped in for Cebulj and immediately recorded a block. A ‘lucky ace’ from Alen Pajenk sealed Slovenia’s victory at 25-13.