MANILA, Philippines – After a frantic but successful Premier Volleyball League debut, Kurashiki of Japan stepped it up a notch, destroying Cignal with quick transition plays and effective hitting for a 25 to 23, 25 to 16, 25 to 23 victory that solidified its hold on second place in the Invitational Conference semifinal round recently at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Asaka Tamaru, who opened her first overseas season with a thunderous 29-hit outburst in a 23 to 25, 25 to 14, 25 to 20, 25 to 11 victory. or the visiting team’s one-hour, 24-minute romp.
Coach Hideo Suzuki managed to get the better of his Cignal teammates Shaq delos Santos and the rest of the coaching staff by omitting playmakers Saki Tanabe Saki and skipper Kyoka Ohshima from their encounter against the Vietnamese, maybe to avoid being scouted.
Tanabe provided crucial hits to wind up with six markers in a two-set spell while Ohshima, who was also competing in her maiden match abroad, concluded with 22 superb sets and three points to claim the game’s top honors.
While Kurashiki and Cignal competed on nearly equal footing in terms of other scoring abilities, the former’s massive edge in spikes—51 to 33—made all the difference.
With four blocks to the Ablaze’s three and two aces to their rivals’ one, the HD Spikers outscored their opponents by 20 points on turnovers. Kurashiki also made 23 unintentional mistakes, including four at the beginning of the game, for a total of 23 points.
When compared to her 10-point performance against Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh, Saya Taniguchi scored an additional 11 points, while Yukino Yano was content with 10 points—seven fewer than she had scored against the Vietnamese.
The HD Spikers dropped to 1 to 3 and were on the verge of being eliminated from the playoff race after a stretch of 3 to 0 routs gave them the appearance of being a serious title candidate. However, this was short-lived when they ran across a more difficult Creamline team and lost in five sets over the weekend.
The HD Spikers, who lost the first two sets but performed well in the third, were led by Ces Molina’s 12 points, but Rachel Anne Daquis’ five points ended up being the team’s next-best score. In the end, Jacqueline Acuna’s assault error helped the Ablaze win the game after they had clawed their way back into it. They did so by outwitting and outlasting the former, just as they had done in the first frame.
While Rose Doria and Jovelyn Gonzaga battled with matching three-point performances, Chin Basas and Riri Meneses concluded with four points each, Chay Troncoso and Acuna had three points each.
The Ablaze recovered from a poor start that saw them commit four errors by regrouping, beginning with their floor defense, which created several scoring opportunities as their wing attackers thrived and the visiting team outwitted the HD Spikers in a tense endgame struggle in the opening set.
The Japanese neutralized Basas and Meneses’ hits that made it 17 to 23 with a running attack from Hiraoka Ayane and Asaka’s kill block of Basas. De los Santos attempted to halt Kurashiki’s momentum with timeouts, as most coaches do, but the pauses hardly slowed down the Japanese.
While the Cool Smashers take on the Vietnamese at 4 p.m. today (Tuesday), Creamline and F2 Logistics confront the visiting squads in turn. At 6:30 p.m. the Cargo Movers start their all-out effort to battle their way back into the Japanese’s matchup.