As play started on Friday night, the Toray Arrows’ magic number to clinch a Final Four berth was at one. Toray needed either to win their match against the Hisamitsu Springs or have the Okayama Seagulls lose their match against the Kurobe Aqua Fairies.
In the first set against Hisamitsu, the Arrows went on a 9-2 after the score was tied at 6-6, to open a major gap, from which the Arrows coasted to the set win 25-12.
The second set had the Springs jump out to a 7-2 lead, which was even pushed to a 12-6 lead by an Foluke Akinradewo ace for Hisamitsu. Still the Arrows, responded with an 8-2 run to tied the score at 14-14. A quick 3-0 run with two blocks on back to back points by Jana Kulan and Kaho Ohno gave the Arrows the gap which the Springs could not overcome. An Ai Kurogo spike ended the second set 25-22, 2-0 set lead for the Arrows.
With the Final Four berth in their sights, the third set was close until 13-13. From there, four straight points by Toray through two blocks (Nanami Inoue and Kulan), a kill by Mayu Ishikawa and a Spring hitting error gave Toray a 17-13 lead. Another 3-0 run at 17-14 opened up a six-point gap for the Arrows. Kulan spiked for a 25-20 set win, and a 3-0 sweep for Toray.
Kulan finished with 18 points (3 blocks and an ace), while her Toray teammates Mayu Ishikawa contributed 17 and Ai Kurogo with 13 (a block and 2 aces).
NEC Red Rockets had a chance to leap into second place with the JT Marvelous not playing as the Red Rockets met Hitachi Rivale. Hitachi took the first set 27-25 after a Red Rockets hitting error. NEC got back into the match winning the second set 25-18 to tie the match at one set all. The third set also went to extra points, and consecutive kills by Neriman Ozsoy and Sarina Koga to take the set 26-24 and lead the match 2-1. In the fourth set Hitachi had a 19-15 lead before a 10-0 run by the Red Rockets, which included five straight points on blocks, two by Nichika Yamada, two by Misaki Yamauchi and one by Ozsoy. The Ozsoy spike ended the set 25-19 for NEC and the match 3-1 sets. Koga with 28 points (1 block and 2 aces) and Turkey’s Ozsoy with 27 points (3 blocks) were nearly unstoppable for NEC. For Hitachi, Fuyumi Hawi Okumu Oba and Mai Irisawa each had 17 points in the loss.
Saitama Ageo Medics had two 3-0 sweeps over the weekend, against Toyota Auto Body Queenseis on Saturday and Victorina Himeji on Sunday. Mami Uchiseto for Saitama led their scoring with 33 points (1 block) to enable the Medics to leapfrog the Okayama Seagulls into fifth place. Okayama only played one match, which they won against Kurobe on Saturday 3-1.
Technically Denso, Saitama and Okayama are tied on 9 wins, Denso and Saitama tied on 28 points, but the Airybees have a better sets ratio to remain in fourth place. Additionally Denso have three more games in hand to play over Okayama and four more compared to Saitama.
Match Results for January 22, 2021
Toyota Auto Body Queenseis – Victorina Himeji 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 27-25)
Match Results for January 23, 2021
Okayama Seagulls – Kurobe Aqua Fairies 3-1 (23-25, 25-12, 25-15, 25-22)
NEC Red Rockets – Hitachi Rivale 3-1 (25-27, 25-18, 26-24, 25-19)
Saitama Ageo Medics – Toyota Auto Body Queenseis 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 26-24)
Toray Arrows – Hisamitsu Springs 3-0 (25-12, 25-22, 25-20)
Match Results for January 24, 2021
Hisamitsu Springs – Kurobe Aqua Fairies 3-1 (25-20, 19-25, 25-10, 25-18)
Saitama Ageo Medics – Victorina Himeji 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-23)
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