Rising star Mayu Ishikawa follows in her brother's footsteps

Sapporo, Japan, October 21, 2019 – Japan’s 19-year-old wing spiker Mayu Ishikawa, sister of Japan men’s national team idol Yuki Ishikawa, is a rising star looking to make the big leagues.

Sapporo, Japan, October 21, 2019 – Japan’s 19-year-old wing spiker Mayu Ishikawa, sister of Japan men’s national team idol Yuki Ishikawa, is a rising star looking to make the big leagues.

Mayu Ishikawa in spiking form

The younger Ishikawa has worked her way through the age-group competitions to her country's senior team.

At the 2019 Asian Championships, Ishikawa led Japan to their fifth title after beating top teams Korea and Thailand in four sets in the semifinals and finals - the two teams featured world stars like Kim Yeon-Koung, Pleumjit Thinkaow and Nootsara Tomkom. Ishikawa was also elected MVP and Best Outside Spiker of the tournament.

She was also recently named Most Valuable Player at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball U20 Women’s World Championship, where she led her team to gold after a phenomenal five-set win against Italy in July.

Less than two months later, Ishikawa was promoted to the senior team at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup in Japan, where she continued her impressive rise.

“At the Asian Championship, we played against Korea and Thailand who competed with their senior players, while Japan were represented by the U20 team,” Ishikawa said. “We won because we showed a lot of unity on the court.

“Personally, I’ve put a lot of my strength in attack to get more points for the team, and this approach really helped me to play in the World Cup.”

Mayu Ishikawa in her first match with the Japan senior national team at the 2019 World Cup

In her first match with the senior team at the World Cup, Ishikawa entered as a substitute, then made her presence felt in the second match against Russia, where she came off the bench in the opening set then as a starter in the next four frames to deliver 20 points. She was the top scorer in her team's next fixture against Korea with 17 points before playing off the bench again in their next two encounters.

Against the United States, her all-out performance helped her team push their rivals to the limit, even if Japan ultimately came up short against the Volleyball Nations League champions. Ishikawa’s 23-point performance against a strong opponent, however, was a defining moment in her young career.

Mayu Ishikawa spikes against USA's Haleigh Washington and Jordyn Poulter

“I gained a lot of confidence in that match against the United States and I made some improvements in my game,” she said. “But playing that five-set match, there were still many difficult situations and we needed to push harder to get the victory. So this is what we should work on from now.”

Ishikawa has shown maturity and determination in her performances but continues to be focused on improvement and being a better player for the Japanese team.

“This is my first entry in the senior national team and my first experience in the World Cup. I’ve had other experiences in the age-group tournaments, but this is the first time that I am playing at a higher level. We still have some more matches to go in this competition, but I want to find the things that I need to work on more to be a better player,” she said.

“The next target is the Olympic Games, by then I want to be a better player to be selected as a member of that team.”

Mayu Ishikawa has come a long way, taking inspiration from her siblings and becoming a star in her own right.

“I was motivated by my sister and my brother who played volleyball. I saw them play and followed them all the time, that’s why I got into this sport,” she said.

“Since then I’ve been playing volleyball and it is everything to me. Of course, I still want to try other things like be a normal teenager who goes shopping and visits many places.”

She has plenty of inspiration and there is no better person to teach her than her brother Yuki, who has led Japan's men’s team in many tournaments.

“When I was in high school, my brother would always give me good advice about spiking,” she recalled.

“I don’t really realise our similarities when we play, but other people would say that we have the same approach and form when we spike. I don’t try to imitate his style though, so I think I have my own style.”