Toyota up by two at the second technical. And just a reminder for those keeping score at home, Toyota won their last five regular round games coming into this. Of course, Hisamitsu won their last twenty-one games ... but who's counting lol
Toyota is playing well, Hisamitsu not so much.
Toyota was up a couple points for most of set 1, but failed to close it out. They dominated sets 2 & 3.
Good match, Toyota up 2-1:
23-25 , 25-17 , 25-22
What a nail-biter! Hisamitsu 3–2 over Toyota
25–23 , 17–25 , 22–25 , 25–22 , 18-16
Toyota played better, but Hisamitsu is better enough to not play as well and still win.
Risa Shinnabe had a boo-boo last play of the game. Looked like she came down on Iwasaka's foot, stood bent over for a few seconds and then limped off, smiling.
Most impressive player was Toyota Libero #8 Misato Sakakibara. I'll be anxious to see numbers but it looked like she received the bulk of the serves and passed most of them perfectly.
Akinradewo killed them in the end.
Toray v JT
Toray's wonderful Libero #15 Yumi Nakagawa is not playing. Dunno why not. But Toray has started #5 Kanami Tashiro (C) at setter over the under performing #14 Misaki Shirai who played most of the Regular Round.
JT looks a little tired out of the gate. They lost four in a row to end the Regular Round. #2 Mizuki Tanaka and #3 Mai Okumura(C) are sporting pony tails. Took me a while to recognize them with the crappy stream and whatnot.
Toray 20-14 in set 1
11:00 Hisamitsu Springs v Toyota Body Queens ... 3–2 ... [25-23 , 17-25 , 22-25 , 25-22 , 18-16]
13:00 JT Marvelous v Toray Arrows ... 3–1 ... [18-25 , 25-22 , 25-15 , 25-23]
15:00 Denso Airybees v NEC Red Rockets ... 3–2 ... [23-25 , 21-25 , 25-21 , 25-22 , 15-9]
The Super Good Happy Happy news is that My Little Sweet Pea, Airi Tahara, is back in uniform for Denso. She didn't start the game, subbed a little in the 1st and 4th sets, then played all the 5th set to bring Denso the win. Of course, Nabeya helped with 47/22, 3 blocks and an Ace, and splendid receiving. After dropping the first two sets Marvel Comics Superhero Rei Kudo took over for Sakamoto. Captain and Hidden Gem Mizuho Ishida (C) contributed 17 points.
NEC started Shimamura, Ono, Koga, Aratani, Yamauchi, and Yamaguchi like they are supposed to and won the first two sets. Yanagita (17 pts) took over for Aratani (6pts) in the 2nd set. That's cool, but they also let Kaori Ueno take over for Ono for the 3rd set onward and lost the match. Koga had 12 points. Hmm
Toray busted out the gate and dominated the first set against JT, and then ... ugh. Love After Dark finished with 6 pts, Horikawa had about 10. Brankica offered 27 for JT. Kanasugi (14 pts) had a pretty good game playing for Tanaka. Meguro played for Kitsui and did okay. Hard game to watch.
Match of the night was definitely the opener, Hisamitsu v Toyota. Everybody did their job. Quality Volleyball. Akinradewo started quiet but killed it when it counted (22 kills (most of them near the end), 4 blocks, 1 ace). Nomoto was also a little quiet at first so she got yanked for Imamura (15 pts). Yuki (13) Risa (11). Pretty even spread.
Toyota looked better than Hisamitsu for most of the game. The end of the fourth and fifth sets became a Neriman v Akinradewo shootout. Unfortunately for Toyota Neriman (78/34) was looking a little tired--hit a few into the net--while Akinradewo was clearly riding a second wind. She clobbered one from the ceiling straight down. You could hear the audience gasp. Lovely.
13:00 Hisamitsu Springs v Toray Arrows ... 3–1 ...[25-22 , 22-25 , 25-16 , 25-19]
15:00 JT Marvelous v Toyota Body Queens ... 3–2 ... [25-22 , 25-16 , 15-25 , 10-25 , 15-11]
Hisamitsu v Toray: Nothing remarkable about this match except to say Love After Dark played pretty well, better than I've seen her play in a long time: (37/19) in attack and only one service error. Horikawa was a dreadful (46/7). Saori's little sister Misato Kimura is doing well as libero. I have no idea why Lovely Libero Yumi Nakagawa has taken off her opposite colored shirt and only occasionally subs as defensive specialist. A few teams have pulled these kind of roster switcheroos for the Final 6. Understanding it is above my pay grade
[Edit to Add] Risa Shinnabe appears to be okay after yesterday's boo-boo, played the whole game. only 4 points but reception was stellar.
JT v Toyota: The first two sets were a good battle but JT was dominant. I fell asleep and woke up at the end of the 4th set which Toyota took 25-10! The 5th set looked like Russia against Japan. JT was clobbering the ball and Toyota was scooping them all up. Great digging, but they couldn't put the ball away. #1 Aika Akutagawa kill-blocked Neriman flying in from downtown to end the game. Fact. I may go watch the sets I missed.
Saturday 10 Feb 2018 Highlights
11:00 Hisamitsu Springs v Toyota Body Queens ... 3–2 ... [25-23 , 17-25 , 22-25 , 25-22 , 18-16] Vimeo
13:00 JT Marvelous v Toray Arrows ... 3–1 ... [18-25 , 25-22 , 25-15 , 25-23] Vimeo
15:00 Denso Airybees v NEC Red Rockets ... 3–2 ... [23-25 , 21-25 , 25-21 , 25-22 , 15-9] Vimeo
Sunday 11 Feb 2018 Highlights
Damn, no Youtube stream I can find , have to suffer the Flash Video stream from Russia.
Hisamitsu has started new acquisition, 22 year old Arisa Inoue (who had a spot on the NT long list last year) in place of Risa Shinnabe. She's swinging pretty well so far. And Yuka Imamura in place of Nomoto. I like Imamura.
Arisa Inoue is playing very well, blocking and attacking. Geez, like Hisamitsu needs another NT worthy player. Not fair.
Hisamitsu grabbed Set 1. NEC (playing a proper lineup) dominated Set 2.
I must say Captain #08 Mizuki Yanagita has been playing really well recently. She took some time off mid-season (for injury or just to let others have playing time, I dunno), and ever since she's been back she's been much better, consistently.
After dropping the first set, NEC has been on fire. Even Koga is playing well Let's see if it holds up
Oh Well. It was a good match, a fun match. NEC finally played up to their potential. But Hisamitsu is just a better team, a team that knows how to turn the screws when the game gets into the 20s.
3-1 Hisamitsu. At least it wasn't embarrassing.
Arisa Inoue just signed with the Hisamitsu 3 weeks ago. She looks like she's got a lot of potential.
11:00 Hisamitsu Springs v NEC Red Rockets ... 3–1 ... [25-18 , 19-25 , 25-20 , 25-23]
13:00 JT Marvelous v Denso Airybees ... 3–0 ... [25-23 , 25-15 , 25-18]
15:00 Toyota Body Queens v Toray Arrows ... 1–3 ... [25-23 , 19-25 , 23-25 , 16-25]
Hisamitsu v NEC: Fun match with the lovely two-girl team commentating. Sadly, it never made it to Youtube. NEC played their best squad and kept them on the floor, finally, and kept Ueno on the bench, finally, and they played well. But not well enough, although it was one of those games where if there was no scoreboard I would have thought NEC won the match. Their reception was outstanding, and their floor defense was scrappy and efficient. Sarina Koga and Mizuki Yanagita (C) had 17 and 16 kills respectively, but it took Koga almost twice as many swings to get there (54 to 30). This is how it's been lately. Yanagita has been efficient. Koga hasn't stepped up offensively--but she's an absolute delight to watch on defense.
On the other side of the tracks, Hisamitsu was more efficient as a team. And damn! New pickup, 22 year old #22 Arisa Inoue, in her first game for Hisamitsu went 42/20 in attack, with 1 block, 1 Ace. She made 1 error. So, 22 year old, #22, scored 22 points in her first game. That's cool. Her reception wasn't bad (30/7,8 ). #12 Yuka Imamura, who's been solid all season, went (37/18 ) in attack. Foluke (18/11) made three service errors that stuck out like a sore thumb. That was weird. Yuki was pretty quiet with 6 kills and 2 blocks. Risa didn't play.
JT v Denso: Speaking of efficiency, JT played one of their best games of the season. Brankica took only 40 swings, and killed 23 of them. #1 Aika Akutagawa was a kill machine with (15/11). Fact. Mai Okumura(C) (10/6); KANASUGI, who always spells her name in ALL CAPS, 26/11). Team reception was 70%.
Denso, on the other hand, slept through the match. Pure Densoidness. Spacing problems. So many balls landing in vast expanses of real estate left unattended. It was hard to watch.
Toyota v Toray: I only watched the first set, and thought "Here we go again, Toray doesn't deserve to be in this Final 6". Well here we go again, indeed: Toyota hasn't won a game yet.
I really thought things would go the opposite for JT and Toyota. I assumed JT, with such a small roster, would be the team showing signs of fatigue, and Toyota would have their guns ablazing after winning the Empress Cup. JT came into this having lost their last four of the Regular Round. Toyota came in having won their last five.
JT is 3–0 so far. Toyota is 0–3. Neriman is the one hitting the ball into the net.
13:00 Hisamitsu Springs v Denso Airybees ... 3–1 ... [25-19 , 18-25 , 30-28 , 25-15]
15:00 JT Marvelous v NEC Red Rockets ... 3–1 ... [23-25 , 25-22 , 26-24 , 25-17]
Two good matches that were well played and competitive for three sets each. Then failure, choke, embarrassment on the part of Denso and NEC.
Next week is going to be the bomb. JT plays Hisamitsu to see who takes first place. Both are undefeated and playing well. It will undoubtedly come down to the two of them in the finals. Next week is the preview.
It's still mathematically possible for NEC to win the Title
Such is the nature of hope
Sure NEC has a mathematical chance, but they would have to win six straight matches (okay technically only 4 wins+1 set twice at worst), plus get a little help just to even make the Final 6.
If Toyota wins on Saturday, Denso must match or at least win to keep this thing alive. A Toray win in 5 with a Toyota win in <5 sets puts the Queenseis in the Final 3.
Hoping for the Queenseis in F3...
11:00 Toyota Body Queens v NEC Red Rockets ... 3–0 ... [25-14 , 25-21 , 25-21]
Painful. Probably the most painful match all year.
Congrats on your first win, Body Queens. You're halfway to the Final 3
JT is pwning Hisamitsu. It's wild. 2–0 JT look young and spunky. Hope they don't choke. Hisamitsu looks a little worried. Yuki especially is getting a crazy amount of camera time, looking unhappy. Not cool.
A freakin romp. JT 18-10 set 3. They are schooling Hisamitsu. I'm impressed
Sat 24 Feb 2018 Results
11:00 Toyota Body Queens v NEC Red Rockets ... 3–0 ... [25-14 , 25-21 , 25-21]
13:00 Denso v Toray Arrows ... 3–0 ... [25-21 , 29-27 , 25-19]
15:00 Hisamitsu Springs v JT Marvelous ... 0–3 ... [22-25 , 20-25 , 17-25]
Amazing. JT folded up Hisamitsu like a pile of dirty laundry. It wasn't even close. Yuki Ishii was a bad sport. I was ready to hand her the Best Japanese Player in Japan Award for the season but she soiled it with pouting and unhappy faces. JT won it with digging and defense. They had so much more life in their legs. Hisamitsu goes the way of Imamura and she had a less than stellar game (33/10), and they didn't feed Akinradewo enough. Reception was good on both sides but JT scooped up second balls, Hisamitsu didn't. This is crazy. JT is playing so well, what a good time to be peaking. Hisamitsu went undefeated for the Regular Round and they will not win the Championship if JT keeps up the good playing. #1 Aika Akutagawa (15/7) 5 blocks. Fact. #3 Mai Okumura(C) (10/5) 5 blocks. Lovely girls.
Toray fought hard but they are not good enough to beat Denso's balanced attack. I don't like Denso youngster #3 Nanaka Sakamoto that much but I think she is going to grow into a fine player--along the lines of Mami Uchiseto, but even better. She went (43/16) but delivered when it counted. You could see it: "Give me the ball!" ... "Okay, I didn't kill that one. Give it to me again!" BANG. When it counted. This is important and something overall stats don't help with.
Toyota's Middle Blockers Killed it. Araki and Watanabe.
NEC Sarina Koga let her team down this year. She better keep an eye in the rear view mirror. Nothing more to say.