Toray Arrows are 15-0 on the season

With four matches postponed due to the Japanese government declaring a State of Emergency for the Tokyo area, the Japanese V1 League Women played its first matches of 2021 this weekend.

Toray Arrows entered the weekend with a perfect 13-0 record and two wins plus a little help would possibly clinch a Final Round spot as one of the top four teams in the regular season.

On Saturday, the Arrows dominated the Okayama Seagulls in a 3-0 win. Toray out spiked Okayama by 12 and the Arrows had six service aces to none for the Seagulls.

On Sunday, Toray met the Saitama Ageo Medics in a hotly contested match, with every set only being won by the minimum two points. In the third set, with Toray leading 2-0 sets, the Arrows had two match points at 24-22. A stuff block by Shainah Joseph and a service ace tied the set at 24 and on to extra points. At 25-25 a Jana Kulan spike gave the Arrows their fourth match point, and Kana Ohno blocked the ball to end the set 27-25 and the match 3-0.

Toray remain perfect after 15 matches. Sadly for the Arrows, they did not get the help they needed to clinch their Final Round berth. However, the magic number (combination of wins or opponent losses) to clinch their Final Round berth is at one.

Over the weekend the power triangle of Jana Kulan, Ai Kurogo and Mayu ishikawa have continued to dominate for the Arrows. Kulan with 39 (4 blocks, 3 aces), Ishikawa 29 (2 aces) and Kurogo 25 (1 block and 1 ace) each over the weekend.

On Saturday, second placed JT Marvelous faced third placed NEC Red Rockets. A win by the Rockets could potentially have had them leapfrog JT into second place.

The Marvelous took a 2-1 sets lead after taking the third set 28-26 on an Annie Drews spike. However, NEC jumped out to an early lead in the fourth set, which the Marvelous could not return from, which pushed the match into a fifth set. The Red Rockets got two spikes from Haruna Soga and another spike from Neriman Ozsoy to take a quick 3-0 lead. JT never recovered and the Red Rockets took the set 15-9 and match 3-2, sweeping the season series 2-0.

Ozsoy finished with 33 (3 blocks), Soga with 20 (2 blocks) and Sarina Koga added 17 (3 blocks). Drews had 28 (1 block and 1 ace) in the loss for JT.

NEC followed up on Sunday with a 3-0 sweep of Hisamitsu Springs. Koga and Ozsoy each had 21 for the Red Rockets in the win.

JT Marvelous faced Victorina Himeji on Sunday to try and stay in second place. Drews was the focus of the Marvelous offence and she did not disappoint with 37 kills on 57 attempts in a 3-1 win. She added an ace for a total of 38 points. The win kept JT in second place by the league third tie-breaker of sets ratio as both teams are tied on wins and points.

The fourth placed Denso Airybees announced on January 8 that a player had tested positive for COVID-19, and on the 11th an additional player tested positive. This meant the Airybees had three matches postponed and they will not play until January 30th at the earliest. However, the Airybees at 9-4 and 28 points started with a two-win advantage over the Okayama Seagulls at the start of the weekend.

Okayama bounced back from the Saturday loss with complete domination over the PFU Blue Cats in a 3-0 sweep. Okayama finished the weekend in fifth place at 8-7.

Hitachi Rivale’s Hannah Tapp had eight blocks in a 3-0 sweep of Kurobe Aqua Fairies on Saturday.
Kurobe then faced Toyota Auto Body Queenseis on Sunday and their luck did not change as Erika Araki had five blocks for Toyota in the Queenseis 3-1 win.

Match Results for January 16, 2021
Victorina Himeji – Hisamitsu Springs 3-2 (15-25, 28-30, 25-23, 25-12, 15-11)
Toray Arrows – Okayama Seagulls 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-17)
Hitachi Rivale – Kurobe Aqua Fairies 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-23)
Saitama Ageo Medics – PFU Blue Cats 3-1 (25-17, 27-29, 25-16, 25-20)
NEC Red Rockets – JT Marvelous 3-2 (25-21, 19-25, 26-28, 25-18, 15-9)

Match Results for January 17, 2021
Toyota Auto Body Queenseis – Kurobe Aqua Fairies 3-1 (24-26, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21)
JT Marvelous- Victorina Himeji 3-1 (25-10, 18-25, 25-19, 25-23)
Okayama Seagulls – PFU Blue Cats 3-0 (25-9, 25-15, 25-19)
Toray Arrows – Saitama Ageo Medics 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 27-25)
NEC Red Rockets – Hisamitsu Springs 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-21)

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