Wolfdogs Nagoya, Sakai Blazers and JTEKT Stings win twice; Hisamitsu Springs bounce back in women’s league

Panasonic Panthers cruised to the top of the Japan V.League men’s leaderboard with two victories over VC Nagano this weekend, while JT Marvelous earned full points in their twin triumphs against Saitama Ageo Medics to stay on top of the women’s standings.

Men’s V.League
The Panthers swept VC Nagano on Saturday and Sunday, with Issei Otake and Michal Kubiak leading the scoring on both occasions.

Otake had a 20-point haul off 15 attacks, two blocks and three aces for a great all-around game to lead the Panthers to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-15) victory in their first match. Kubiak contributed 11 markers. In the second match, Otake tallied 18 and Kubiak added eight attacks and four blocks to the 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-21).

The Osaka-based Panthers had a 1-1 win-loss record in the previous week when they faced Wolfdogs Nagoya and Kubiak’s compatriot Bartosz Kurek.

Sakai Blazers, the Wolfdogs and JTEKT Stings also claimed victories in the second week to jump to second, third and fourth place, respectively.

Kurek helped the Wolfdogs with 19 points to win their match on Saturday against Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler 3-1 (25-21, 16-25, 25-22, 25-20), then recorded 24 markers the next day to help his team outplay their opponents 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-22).

The Blazers opened the weekend with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-20) win over last week’s leaders Toray Arrows on Friday, then scored a 3-2 (25-27, 25-17, 25-13, 23-25, 15-6) win in their second encounter.

The high-leaping Canadian Sharone Vernon-Evans starred with 25 points built from 19 attacks, one block and five service winners in the first match. In the second, Vernon-Evans had 22, but his rival Krisztian Padar topped all scorers as he scored 35 points in the losing effort.

JTEKT Stings posted a 3-0 on Saturday, then survived a tie-break encounter on Sunday against FC Tokyo. Olympic gold medallist Felipe Fonteles had double-digit outputs of 19 and 26 in these victories.

Finally, the Suntory Sunbirds and JT Thunders had a draw this weekend, as the former won 3-1 on Saturday and the latter responded with a 3-0 win on Sunday.

Women’s V.League
In the women’s championship, JT Marvelous showed top form to keep their unbeaten run going, with Annie Drews leading the charge to claim 3-1 (25-21, 28-26, 17-25, 25-23) and 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-20) victories over the Ageo Medics.

Drews, who is JT Marvelous’ main scoring weapon, breached the 20-point scoring mark twice as she recorded 23 and 22 markers over the weekend. Brazilian opposite Lorenne Teixeira came off the bench in the first match and produced 20 points for Ageo Medics, but could not produce the same intensity in the second encounter and scored just three.

Drews’ compatriot Foluke Akinradewo was also valuable in Hisamitsu Springs’ twin four-set victories this weekend as she scored 18 and 12 points. The Kobe-based Spring attackers beat Denso Airybees 3-0 (19-25, 25-22, 28-26, 25-21) on Saturday and 3-1 (25-10, 25-21, 26-28, 25-22) on Sunday.

PFU Blue Cats and Okayama Seagulls also earned two victories over the weekend.

Cuban Melissa Valdez scored 17 in their 3-0 (25-13, 25-21, 25-16) win on Saturday and 18 points in the 3-1 (17-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-18) victory on Sunday over Toyota Auto Body Queenseis, led by Kelsey Robinson who made 10 and 26 points on her V.League debut.

Okayama Seagulls improved their record to 2-2 after their straight-set road victories over Kurobe Aquafairies. The Seagulls started with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 27-25) win and then completed the weekend with a sweep 3-0 (25-21, 25-13, 25-20).

Meanwhile, Japan women’s national team top scoring duo Sarina Koga and Mayu Ishikawa had a face off this weekend, resulting in a draw. Koga’s NEC Red Rockets rallied from two sets down to win 3-2 (21-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-16, 15-11), then conceded the next match to Ishikawa’s Toray Arrows 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 25-22).

The matchup between Hitachi Rivale and Victorina Himeji also resulted in split victories in five sets.

Celeste Plak went on a solid 32-point attack run to help Victorina Himeji to a 3-2 (17-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-11) win, then Fuyumi Howie Okumu responded with a 36-point haul to eclipse Plak’s 26 markers in the second match and lead Hitachi Rivale to a 3-2 (25-19, 22-25, 23-25, 27-25, 16-14) victory.

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