Japan - V.Premier League 2017-2018

  • How's Ai Kurogo doing this season? Japanese media was doing a lot of coverage on her during inter high. Thanks.


    Ai Kurogo, AKA Love After Dark, started the season, the first round well, really caught my eyes, but has gone downhill since then, imo. Looks like she has zero confidence. She gets taken out of the end of games if it's close match.


    She's a busy girl in terms of numbers but unreliable, a mistake waiting to happen. She's 12th in number of points scored but not in top 15 in attack rate. She's also 12th in Serve Effect rate but with 44 errors (almost double everyone else). She's 13th in serve receive rate, with a lot more receives (576) than others besides Yuki Ishii (488 ) and Obata (433)--most others are in the 200s.


    So, her numbers are confusing. If you watch her play she looks uncomfortable, almost lost on the court. Her last game she was 1/14 in attack. Previous game she had SEVEN service errors.


    My opinion is from watching her play. Numbers are weird determination.

  • Sat 20 Jan 2018
    13:00 Hitachi Rivale v JT Marvelous ... 3–2
    13:00 NEC Red Rockets v Toray Arrows ... 3–0
    15:00 Toyota Body Queens v Denso Airybees ... 3–0


    Sun 21 Jan 2018
    13:00 NEC Red Rockets v Ageo Medics ... 2–3
    13:00 Toyota Body Queens v Hitachi Rivale ... 3–0


    The usual Youtube Channels didn't stream this weekend. Bummer. I had to bop back and forth between live Flash streams which sux because Flash sux. Sends my laptop fans screaming. Don't like that.


    NEC started Shimamura and Aratani against Toray and crushed them. Gave me hope that NEC was actually going to start playing to win. They started Shimamura and Aratani against Ageo and crushed them in the first two sets. NEC gave up after that and brought in Ueno and Hirose(3 service errors at critical moments) in the third set and ended up losing the match. Against Ageo!


    If Ageo's last game wasn't against Hisamitsu, it's conceivable they could overtake NEC and send them to the Challenge league. Lordy. NEC is probably going to lose their last two against JT and Toyota. If they get zero points from those two matches and a miracle occurs and Ageo beats Hisamitsu in 4 sets or less, NEC is gone. 25 to 24 points in favor of Ageo.


    The NEC v Ageo game was actually quite fun. As a favor to me, when NEC put Ueno in, Ageo took Carcaces out so I wouldn't have two unhappy faces to look at. The upside of this was that seldom seen OH for Ageo #18 Miku Benoki got a chance to show her stuff. She went 13/35 with six errors, but as far as I'm concerned she rocked the house. She looked confident, comfortable, and happy. A beautiful thing! Additionally, Ageo's libero, #7 Akane Yamagishi was a digging machine.


    Denso. Up until My Little Sweet Pea got hurt it looked like Denso had a lock on third place. Now, it's Toyota's for the taking. Denso is going to lose to JT in their last game (although JT is slipping a bit lately), and if Toyota beats NEC (likely) or even loses 2–3, they get third place.


    If Toray gets 6 points in their last two games they could overtake Denso, but this is unlikely as one of Toray's last two is against Hisamitsu.


    Toyota is really the only exciting thing going on. Everything else is like a wet fart as the season comes to a close.



    Current Standings:


    1 Hisamitsu Springs - 55pts ... 19-0 -- (57,11)
    2 JT Marvelous - 39pts ... 13-6 -- (47,28 )
    3 Denso Airybees - 29pts ... 10-10 -- (39,40)
    4 Toyota Body Queens - 29pts ... 10-10 -- (38,39)
    5 Toray Arrows - 24pts ... 8-11 -- (32,41)
    6 NEC Red Rockets - 24pts ... 7-12 -- (32,40)
    7 Ageo Medics - 22pts ... 7-13 -- (32,45)
    8 Hitachi Rivale - 12pts ... 4-16 -- (22,55)


    Ongoing season results, highlights, and schedule in ->this post

  • I think Koga is performing like a dime-a-dozen OH who takes 60 swings and gets 20 points. She has no "go to" quality when they need it. Her reception is still good, defense is good. I haven't seen any growth.

    Akari Oumi
    retired. NEC is playing without spirit. They're trying out new setters while Yamaguchi sits on the bench. Miku Torigoe (L) retired. Defensively, their digging sucks. Nami Sagawa(MB) retired, Shimamura doesn't play much. They don't have a big foreigner on the team. They're just messing around this year, throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, if you ask me :teach:


    Personally, they are like an ex-girlfriend I need to forget about :lol: It's been a struggle to enjoy watching them this year. ;( Not because they are losing. I've enjoyed watching Hitachi lose all season. I need better defense, fewer service errors, and something beyond the blank stare NEC gives off. My money is on Misaki Yamauchi to bring some spirit to the team next year.

  • Koga has improved compared to 2 years ago, which was her second season. She went to the national team right out of high school, right into NEC. Too much too fast. That second year was brutal as nothing seemed to work for her. Last year got back on track after not making Olympic team. She will never be a big spiker due to height, but if she can change speeds and put the ball into the corners, she'll be an effective player. Young enough to try and go overseas, but I doubt that she will.


    The losses of players for NEC meant that they needed a foreigner to pick up some of the slack on offense. In Japan foreigners are used as opposites more often than not. Some teams may pick up a middle, but that may fit the coach's needs. Hisamitsu usually goes with a foreign middle because their outside hitters are better.


    Kurogo for Toray is still just trying to figure out the difference in the game as a pro vs. high school. At times looks great and then others she is a liability. Considering she was considered the best high school player in the country, I don't know if that is on Toray's coaching or her with the decline in play. I know that she is young, so that plays into it as well. Toray really shifted with Saori Kimura and Saori Sakoda's retirement, so even if they wanted to bring Kurogo in slowly, they could not because Toray needed her to get up to speed quickly and become the face of the franchise.

  • brahmin ... Nice of you to be fair to these young women :D


    I can't update the schedule page with links to these highlights because it puts it over the 10,000 character limit. So here we go


    Sat 20 Jan 2018
    13:00 Hitachi Rivale v JT Marvelous ... 3–2
    13:00 NEC Red Rockets v Toray Arrows ... 3–0
    15:00 Toyota Body Queens v Denso Airybees ... 3–0


    Sun 21 Jan 2018
    13:00 NEC Red Rockets v Ageo Medics ... 2–3
    13:00 Toyota Body Queens v Hitachi Rivale ... 3–0


    Ongoing season results, highlights, and schedule in ->this post ... mostly

  • Koga has improved compared to 2 years ago, which was her second season. She went to the national team right out of high school, right into NEC. Too much too fast. That second year was brutal as nothing seemed to work for her. Last year got back on track after not making Olympic team. She will never be a big spiker due to height, but if she can change speeds and put the ball into the corners, she'll be an effective player. Young enough to try and go overseas, but I doubt that she will.


    The losses of players for NEC meant that they needed a foreigner to pick up some of the slack on offense. In Japan foreigners are used as opposites more often than not. Some teams may pick up a middle, but that may fit the coach's needs. Hisamitsu usually goes with a foreign middle because their outside hitters are better.


    Kurogo for Toray is still just trying to figure out the difference in the game as a pro vs. high school. At times looks great and then others she is a liability. Considering she was considered the best high school player in the country, I don't know if that is on Toray's coaching or her with the decline in play. I know that she is young, so that plays into it as well. Toray really shifted with Saori Kimura and Saori Sakoda's retirement, so even if they wanted to bring Kurogo in slowly, they could not because Toray needed her to get up to speed quickly and become the face of the franchise.

    Thanks for the analysis. I always thought Manabe screwed up big time by not selecting Koga for the Olympic team because she is the best young prospect for Japan. But it's good to hear she bounced back because missing the Olympics might have had a negative impact on her mentally. Media is hyping Kurogo to be the successor for Saorin so hope she can do it. Is Ishikawa's sister better than Kurogo? I think they were teammates in high school. Where is Airi Miyabe playing?

  • I'm not sure about Koga's 'bounce back'. NEC had a good 16/17 season (and roster), yes, but did you watch the 2017 WGP or Asian Championship or the Club Worlds? Or any of her club games this season? I have yet to see anything like I saw in the 2015 World Cup. She had a good game against Brazil in the WGP and was invisible for the rest of the tournament. I still love her for her superb defense, though. She's solid and smart with beautiful technique.


    Where is Airi Miyabe playing? College of Southern Idaho Volleyball team

  • I'm not sure about Koga's 'bounce back'. NEC had a good 16/17 season (and roster), yes, but did you watch the 2017 WGP or Asian Championship or the Club Worlds? Or any of her club games this season? I have yet to see anything like I saw in the 2015 World Cup. She had a good game against Brazil in the WGP and was invisible for the rest of the tournament. I still love her for her superb defense, though. She's solid and smart with beautiful technique.


    Where is Airi Miyabe playing? College of Southern Idaho Volleyball team

    The "bounce back" is from Brahmin's analysis since I don't follow club and have not watch all the recent games between National teams. All I can do is ask from people who are more knowledgeable. Koga is a very good all around player so based from what you have analyzed, I guess getting cut from the Olympics really have affected her mentally. I hope she gets back to her top form because I like her potential more than other Japanese players.

  • I think Manabe cutting Koga from the Olympic Team was cruel and undeserved, and must have had a big impact on her. I've read it was because she did poorly in the Qualifiers? I don't think she was bad, but I can still picture the sequence where she got blocked twice in a row. Manabe took her out and it was like her career was over for him. She felt that. You could see it on her.


    I wanted Koga to be the "foreigner" NEC "needed" this year. She's tall enough and smart enough and skilled enough, she should be stepping on other Japanese teams like they are ants. I wanted her to move on from having potential ... to having it.


    Hitachi's Miwako Osanai is my youngster pick of the season.


    And a shout out to Yurie Nabeya. The NT player who's gotten better and shown growth. She's like a fast car that doesn't handle well, though :D

  • Koga's second year was bad both on the club scene and the national team. She did not warrant getting on the Rio roster because she was that bad. Koga is a good all around player and is a key part in the national team, but she may be asked to do too much with her club team. a foreigner would have helped her greatly this year.

  • Every player will have slumps but I didn't think Koga's poor play warranted getting cut. She has the most potential but Manabe brought in another libero for defense. Japan needed more offense imo. That's why I didn't like his decision. Koga could have used Rio as experience but will have to wait until 2020 playing in home crowd for her first Olympics under pressure if she makes it. Anyway I hope she reaches her potential as I have always thought she would be the successor to Saorin.

  • Koga joined NEC in January 2015, mid-season for the eventual championship team. She played with the NT in 2015 at Montreux, the WGP, and the WC (Aug/Sept). She looked quite good at the WC. I can't speak to the others, much.


    I didn't watch the 2015/16 club season. So without visual confirmation we gotta look at (some) numbers:


    2015/16 she had an attack rate of 36%. Receive rate of 55% (this is the one preceding Rio)
    2016/17 she had an attack rate of 32%. Receive rate of 64%
    2017/18 she has an attack rate of 36%. Receive rate of 50%


    Numbers only tell a portion of the story. But I don't see much of a bounce back today or a massive fail in the 15/16 season. (I think her defense is more important than her attack rate, but no matter)


    She joins the NT in the spring of 2016 for the Olympic Qualifiers? Word on the street is that she played poorly. I can say from watching her that she didn't look as good as she did in the 2015 WC. She looked a little lost, lacking confidence. Didn't look much better at 2016 WGP. But nobody was looking that good in 2016. Nagaoka was coming up, displacing Sakoda (Boo!). Risa Shinnabe wasn't around.


    So who knows? Maybe she had a small injury. There's probably a lot we don't know regarding why things happen. Or don't. I still don't know why Arisa Sato didn't play with the NT in 2017. We (me!) wailed loudly why Miyashita didn't play much in 2017, like she was being dismissed for bad setting. Then we see her at the rehab center. I read a comment on VolleyMob website regarding her absence that said she has arthritis in both her knees. Maybe a troll comment? I dunno.


    I love Sarina Koga. For the record, my love for players begins with how well they play in the back row. I think Sarina is wonderful but don't see her growing and getting better in the front row. She's going to be 22 in a couple months.


    China won that 2015 WC with a front row that was 18,19,20 years old. Gold in Rio. That front row was 19, 20, 21. Sure, they are genuine freaks of physical nature, but still youngsters. Sarina can't use that excuse any more. Please understand I don't think she's bad. I'm just disappointed she hasn't blossomed into what I hoped for her.


    I've watched all her games this Club Season, some more than once. I'm emotionally engaged. Not very good at stepping back and offering a cool, calm, and collected analysis. I leave that to brother brahmin :D I think it's worthwhile getting diverse perspectives. Sorry if I appear to be arguing with any one. I really wanted Koga to show us that foreigners aren't needed and are in fact detrimental to the development of young Japanese players. She didn't do it. I'm sad and ruffled about that. :mad: