Panthers take two wins against JTEKT

After all 10 matches were postponed on the days of January 8-11 due to the Japanese government declaring a State of Emergency for the Tokyo area, the Japanese V1 League Men played its first matches of 2021 this weekend.

First placed Panasonic Panthers met the JTEKT Stings in the Osaka suburb of Hirakata in their two-match series.

On Saturday, the Panthers defeated the Stings 3-1. In the fourth set Panasonic went on a 6-1 run after the score was tied at 4-4 to create a gap that JTEKT could not catch. Kunihiro Shimizu led his team with 16 points, all kills, while Yuji Nishida had 28 points (2 blocks) for JTEKT in the loss.

On Sunday, JTEKT took a 2-1 sets lead, and forced the Panthers to fight back. They went on a 5-0 run to take a 6-1 lead in the fifth set, which was insurmountable and gave the Panthers a 3-2 sets win. Poland’s Michal Kubiak led with 20 points (2 blocks and 1 ace) and Nishida again scored 28 points (3 blocks and 1 ace) for the Stings.

Meanwhile, second placed Wolfdogs Nagoya played against Sakai Blazers in their weekend series in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture.

The Blazers upset the Wolfdogs in a 3-0 sweep in their first match. Sakai had more kills (49-43), more blocks (5-2) and five fewer hitting errors than Nagoya (3-8) to take the match. The Wolfdogs’ Bartosz Kurek led all scorers with 19 points (2 aces).

On the second day of the weekend, Nagoya knew they needed a win to keep pace with Panasonic winning on Saturday.

In a battle between foreign opposites Kurek and Sakai’s Frenchman Jhon Wendt, the fourth set proved pivotal with Nagoya having a 2-1 sets lead. On the last attempt to come back, the Blazers hit the ball long, giving the set 31-29 to Nagoya and the match 3-1 sets. Kurek finished with 34 points (2 blocks and 3 aces) in the win, while Wendt provided 30 points, all kills for the Blazers in the loss.

The Suntory Sunbirds and Toray Arrows had a COVID-19 outbreak before the final weekend of play in 2020 and have played two fewer games than the other teams in V1.

The Sunbirds faced the VC Nagano Tridents in their two matches in Osaka. Suntory swept both matches 3-0 and Russian opposite Dmitriy Muserskiy leads all scorers with 43 points (2 blocks and 3 aces) between the two matches.

Toray met the JT Thunders Hiroshima in their weekend series in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture.

Saturday’s match was won by the Thunders 3-1, and the Thunders dominated with 10 blocks. Toray’s errors in hitting and serving enabled it to be a comfortable win for JT. Krisztian Padar for Toray led all scorers with 27 (1 block and 2 aces). Australian Thomas Edgar led the Thunders with 20 points (3 blocks).

Sunday’s match was competitive as it went five sets, with Toray making a make 3-0 run at 11-10 to create a gap that the Thunders could not overcome to take the set 15-11 and match 3-2 sets. Padar was brilliant again for the Arrows with 37 (2 blocks and 3 aces) in the win, while Edgar fought valiantly with 28 (1 block and 1 ace) in the loss.

Lastly FC Tokyo faced Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler in Beppu City, Oita Prefecture for their two-match weekend series. FC Tokyo swept the series with both matches being decided by 3-1 scores.

Match Results for January 16, 2021

Suntory Sunbirds – VC Nagano Tridents 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 22-20)
Sakai Blazers – Wolfdogs Nagoya 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-23)
FC Tokyo – Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler 3-1 (25-23, 13-25, 27-25, 25-19)
JT Thunders Hiroshima – Toray Arrows 3-1 (25-16, 25-17, 20-25, 25-18)
Panasonic Panthers – JTEKT Stings 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 25-17)

Match Results for January 17, 2021

Suntory Sunbirds – VC Nagano Tridents 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-21)
Toray Arrows – JT Thunders Hiroshima 3-2 (26-24, 22-25, 25-22, 24-26, 15-11)
Wolfdogs Nagoya – Sakai Blazers 3-1 (25-22, 25-27, 25-22, 31-29)
FC Tokyo – Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-18)
Panasonic Panthers – JTEKT Stings 3-2 (25-23, 18-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-11)

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