Japan - 6th V9 Women's Champ League 2020

  • Japan - 6th (Reiwa 2) V9 Champ League
    (Women's First League) 2020

    Panasonic Bluebells
    (Champions 2019)

    Mazda Cross Nine
    (2nd Place 2019)

    Denso Ten Red Phoenix
    (3rd Place 2019)

    Ibiden Regulus
    (4th Place 2019)

    Kagoshima Bank Regionwings
    (5th Place 2019)

    Sanden Blue Ecores
    (6th Place 2019)

    Tokyo Higashi Shinkin Bank Blue Rabbits
    (7th Place 2019)

    Hita Kenshin White Dolphin
    (8th Place 2019)

    The tournament --usually contested during the summer months-- has been slightly condensed and rescheduled for Nov-Dec:

    1. Hiroshima Games (Nekota Memorial Gymnasium)
      Round 1-2: 2020/11/14 – 11/15
    2. Mie Competition (Hisai Gymnasium)
      Round 3-5: 2020/11/22 – 11/23
    3. Tokyo Games (BumB Tokyo Sports Culture Hall)
      Round 6-7: 2020/12/5 – 12/6
    4. Ogaki Games (Ogaki City Gymnasium)
      Final Round: 2020/12/19 – 12/20

    It's a Round Robin with the top four finishers competing in a Semifinal and 1st & 3rd place matches, and the bottom four finishers competing in a Semifinal and 5th & 7th place matches.

    Like Japan V.League1 and V2, the bottom two finishers will compete with the top two finishers from the V9 Women's Second League in promotion/relegation matches.

    The V9 Champ League started in 2015. My google-translate understanding is that it was in response to the 2010 decision of the National Athletic Meet Volleyball Competition (one of the three major High School Tournaments) to discontinue 9-person volleyball. V9 Champ League is sponsored by the JVA, Business and Club Federations.

    The V9 Women's Second League began in 2018 and currently has six teams: three Business and three University.

    There are at present 3 or 4 National 9-person volleyball tournaments:

    • V9 Champ League (June)
    • All Japan Business Group (July) Since 1948)
    • All Japan General (October) (Since 1927)
    • All Japan Selection (Sakurada Memorial) (December) (Since 1986) Unsure exactly what this one is

    Teams also compete in local and regional competitions throughout the year. As an example, for the past several years the Panasonic Bluebells have competed in 3-4 National, 2-4 Local, and 2-3 Regional Tournaments each year. The National tournament dropped from their schedule the last couple years was the Business Group. I don't have any understanding of how the qualification system works among tournaments. It may be that the Bluebells didn't need to play/win the Business Group tournament to qualify for the Champ League.

    Moving forward, I believe with all my tenuous google-translate understanding, the V9 Champ League will become (if it isn't already) the most prestigious. It'll probably grow by a couple teams, especially the Women's Second League, and I think more University Teams will qualify for top honors.

    Speaking of the Bluebells, the team my back-court attacking middle-blocker hero Haruka Maruo joined (in what appears to be a Kevin Durant-style ring chasing move) have won this V9 Champ League all five times it's been contested. Not only that, of the 41 tournaments the Bluebells have contested since 2015 they've won 31 Gold Medals, 9 Silver, and 1 Bronze. Say no more.

  • As mentioned, Panasonic Bluebells are the overwhelmingly dominant team across the entire V9 landscape. The only team who has occasionally interrupted their winning ways over the past decade is Denso Ten Red Phoenix. They are the only two teams with a web site. They are also probably the only teams with a real volleyball coach, but I dunno. Money, I guess. A few of these top V9 Champ League teams don't even have a logo :(

    Panasonic Bluebells used to be Panasonic Energy (until 2014), and Denso Ten Red Phoenix used to be Fujitsu Ten Red Phoenix (until 2017) -- for what it's worth.

    Pioneer had a team, Red Sonics, who had a couple podium appearances in the last decade but as far as I can tell they may have disbanded after 2018.

    Of note: Gunma Bank Green Wings, who crushed the V.League Division 2 last season, used to be a 9-person team (until 2014). A J-Wiki article suggests Gunma Bank's departure from 9-ball accelerated the need for a new vision and the establishment of the V9 Champ League.

    Also: There is an Osaka Superiors team who just showed up in the 2020 Women's Second League. There was an Osaka Superiors team in V.League Division 2 until 2018. Don't know what, if any, the connection is.

    Seems to me that whomever, or whatever, is behind the 9volleyball.jp website and organization are trying to be a central clearinghouse for gathering sponsors and organizing competitions with the hope of creating stability and long term goals, and developing a league that isn't dominated by one or two teams with a bunch of others that come and go every few years. I'm here to help :)

    Some of the companies have more than one team. Shinkin Bank, for example. Panasonic has a second team, the Ghost in the Shelly named Panasonic Tsu Advance. I don't know what it is or what it means in Japanese (other than Tsu being the city where they are located). I'll have a story connected to Panasonic Tsu Advance in a future installment of this blog :S which will reveal the straw that broke this camel's back and prompted me to start the thread.

  • The only thing keeping me from buying the Blu-ray of last year's Championship matches is: I don't have a Blu-ray player :( I've contacted them to see if they are available for download.

    I'm hooked, and fearful this is going to make 6-ball V.League stuff seem slow and boring.

    I understand Haruka Maruo's decision now. If I was 22 years old and wanted to play volleyball for a few years until I started my 'career', 9-ball is what I would play.

    There are a LOT of high-quality players in this niche. No wonder the College Champion MVP and Best MB didn't land an immediate starting spot. The Bluebells front line is rock solid good. Two of them just retired so I'm sure she'll play this year -- if/when play resumes