I thought I would look into this team Forest Leaves Kumamoto. No better way to do it than watch them play Okayama NoSmilers. VTV came through. I watched a match from February 2018, back when Okayama was in V2 (V.Challenge 1). Two years ago Okayama was in V2 They won the Championship, losing only one match and nine sets the whole season, but still.
NoSmiler's lineup was the same as today and they all looked the same except Sanae Watanabe. She looked young, maybe because she was wearing a smaller batting helmet. Aimi Kawashima was the revelation. She had a HULK SMASH party. She and Haruka were locked and loaded. I miss how good Aimi used to be.
The match was a lot of fun. Great defense on both sides. Crazy saves leading to long rallies.
Kumamoto looked good. If you lose more long rallies than your opponent you are going to lose the match but you can still look good doing it. Kumamoto had a 169cm (LOL) MB, Narumi Funatsu, who was furious in attack. Not HULK SMASHes but violent nonetheless. A jumper.
Seems most of the 2017-18 Kumamoto squad has retired (including Funatsu) or moved on. The Captain, OH Miku Kawaguchi is the only player on the current roster. One veteran player, Momoko Wada, has become "manager". OP Chika Saito plays for Gumma Bank now; Setter Akina Iwanaga plays for JA Gifu.
Standings for 2017-18 (top 4):
- Okayama 17–1 (loss was to PFU)
- PFU - 16–2 (two losses were to Okayama)
- Kurobe - 11–6
- Kumamoto - 5–13
I don't like it when teams put their nickname before their city name, like Breath Hamamatsu. It's awkward in theory. But Forest Leaves Kumamoto and Breath Hamamatsu are cool names so they're forgiven