FC Tokyo could not repeat their magic against second-ranked Sakai, faltering in four sets, 23-25, 15-25, 26-24, 19-25, in the 2021-22 V.League Division 1 men’s tournament, Sunday at the Komazawa Olympic Park Stadium.
Marck Espejo did not play in the third set, registering just four points on three attacks and a block. He also only had 14 spiking attempts in the loss.
Sent to the brink by the Blazers, the Espejo-less FC Tokyo fought back in the third, eking out a 26-24 verdict to extend the match.
However, Sakai retaliated with a dominant fourth salvo to complete its revenge, 25-19.
Yuki Higuchi beasted at the net, delivering five kill blocks to go with 21 hits and a service ace to amass 27 points for the Blazers.
Canadian import Sharone Vernon-Evans chipped in 21 points while Naoya Takano added 11 points.
Sakai forged a tie with Toray for the top spot in the 10-team field with identical 11-3 win-loss cards.
Jonas Kvalen and Yuma Nagatomo netted 16 points apiece for the 4-10 FC Tokyo, still at eighth place.
Espejo and his squad will be back on January 8, Saturday, 1 pm against Panasonic after the one-month league break.