On April 30th, the Hisamitsu Springs faced high school team Kinrankai in the Japanese Volleyball Association’s Kurowashihata (Black Eagle Flag) Invitational Tournament. The Springs also had a surprise for the Kinrankai team, Japanese national team player Miyu Nagaoka would be making her first appearance in a competitive match in 13+ months. Nagaoka had injured her left Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in the last match of the 2017 Final 6 Playoffs on March 4th, 2017. In the match Hisamitsu was facing the NEC Red Rockets.
Hisamitsu were down one set to zero and receiving serve at 23-24 in the second set from NEC, who had set point. Nagaoka was playing middle front at the start of the serve due to the rotation. The offense for Hisamitsu had her stacked on the right side next to Nana Iwasaka, who was right front at the start of the serve.
The ball was served to Yuki Ishii in the right back and she passed it perfectly to Chizuru Kotoh, who was a back row setter on the play. With the pass being perfect, Iwasaka was the option for a quick set behind the setter on the right, and Nagaoka was the option in the middle of the court. Risa Shinnabe was the front left on the play, but performing serve receive to start, so the final spiking option if the pass was bad.
Nagaoka is a left handed hitter and the ball was set to her. She spiked the ball, but it was partially blocked back onto the Hisamitsu side of the net. However, when Nagaoka landed, her left knee gave way, while the play was continuing, she was on her back in the middle of the court.
The ball was still in play on the Hisamitsu side of the net, and set to the outside and the down referee made the smart call and stopped the play as Nagaoka could have injured players on either team as she was on her back on the center line.
The ACL injury has taken a while to heal for Miyu Nagaoka. In March, she made a one play appearance at the V.LEAGUE All-Star Game as she had been elected to the game by the fans. The one play she was in had her play in the back row and serving only one serve flat footed. She also had a chance to spike on the play, but smartly made a downball swing from the floor.
Courtesy of Poohsan1053’s Youtube page
Reports during the season had Nagaoka returning in early 2018, but finally being put back into a game in May was probably a little frustrating for her. National team coach Kumi Nakada was Nagaoka’s club coach with Hisamitsu and named her to the 2018 Japanese Women’s National Team. Nagaoka had a been a mainstay on the national team in 2015 and 2016. While Nagaoka is not on the roster for the Volleyball Nations League, I expect her to be on the roster for the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship in October as she is Japan’s best opposite.
All there is left to say is “Welcome Back, Miyu.”