Toray Arrows and Suntory Sunbirds ran away with two victories over the weekend in the men’s tournament, while JT Marvelous, NEC Red Rockets, Toray Arrows, Denso Airybees and Saitama Ageo Medics posted double triumphs in the women’s tournament of the Japan V.League.
Defending champions Suntory Sunbirds and JT Marvelous revel in twin victories
Two men’s teams and five women’s teams stand their ground in V.League opening weekend
Published 08:06, 18 Oct 2021
After a 3-1 (25-22, 18-25, 25-16, 25-19) win in their first encounter, Toray Arrows came up with a straight-set win (25-17, 25-21, 25-22) over VC Nagano in their second outing.
With national team middles Kentaro Takahashi and Haku Lee manning the net, and setter Naonobu Fujii setting the plays for the heavy-hitting Krisztian Padar, Toray Arrows were able to gain an edge and neutralise VC Nagano and their top-scoring Indonesian opposite Rivan Nurmulki to claim the top spot in the men’s ranking.
Defending champions Suntory Sunbirds had to earn their victories the hard way, overcoming FC Tokyo in two five-set matches.
On Saturday, Suntory Sunbirds led 2-0 but lost their footing in the next two sets, before regaining their momentum in the tie-breaker to register their first win of the new season 3-2 (26-24, 25-22, 23-25, 21-25, 15-11). In their next encounter, the Sunbirds were down two sets before they rallied to win 3-2 (23-25, 23-25, 25-20, 29-27, 15-12).
The eagerly awaited matchups between world champions Bartosz Kurek and Michal Kubiak resulted in a draw. Kurek’s Nagoya Wolfdogs came out victorious in a down-to-the-wire five-setter (21-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 19-17). But could not outplay Kubiak’s Panasonic Panthers in their second match, as Issei Otake and Kubiak teamed-up on offence and Akihiro Yamauchi put up a solid defence at the net in their 3-1 win (25-18, 25-20, 22-25, 25-15).
Also splitting victories over the weekend were JT Thunders and JTEKT Stings, and Sakai Blazers and Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler.
JT Thunders won in four sets, but the Stings fought back in their second match to win in five sets. Oita Miyoshi won a four-setter before going down in straight sets to the Blazers.
In the women’s tournament, defending champions JT Marvelous picked up where they left off last season, shutting out Toyota Auto Body Queenseis to start the new season with a 2-0 record. Annie Drews’ national teammate Kelsey Robinson did not see action in either match.
Drews had a double-digit performance in the opening match to lead JT Marvelous to a 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-18, 25-20) win over Queenseis. The left-handed American opposite saw action only in the first two sets of the second match and got a breather in the third set, but the defending champions still claimed a 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-13) win.
Sarina Koga led her team both in offence and defence to help the NEC Red Rockets to earn full points off 3-0 and 3-1 victories over Kurobe Aqua Fairies this weekend. Koga has clearly enhanced her leadership qualities since becoming Japan’s scoring leader at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Mayu Ishikawa and Jana Kulan’s teamwork helped Toray Arrows win two matches in a row against Victorina Himeji, who had Dutch star Celeste Plak debuting in the V.League. Toray Arrows started with 3-1 win, then progressed to the next match with a 3-0 stunner.
Denso Airybees also earned full points after their four-set and straight-set victories over PFU Bluecats, while Ageo Medics won both their matches, but did not gain three points in the first match as their first match with Okayama Seagulls went to five sets before they closed the next match with a straight-set triumph.
Hitachi Rivale split victories with Hisamitsu Springs, with the former winning in a tight five-set battle, and then the latter responding with a four-set win.