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Japan hands Philippines sobering loss

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Sitting in the third spot of the FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Rankings, Japan has long been a global volleyball power. Which is why, despite all the heart and optimism our local volleyball crowd has mustered, the Nationals just didn’t have enough to pull off an upset.

Today’s match turned the Philippines into the Tokyo to Japan’s Godzilla, as their monstrous volleyball squad had no problem plowing through the Nationals, 12-25, 18-25, 15-25.

The hosts did not record a single block, and managed just one ace. On the other hand, the visitors had three blocks and eight aces. Moreover, the biggest thorn on the Philippines’ side was their inability to control Japan’s serves, which resulted in 27 unforced errors compared to Japan’s 10.

Japan even managed to field all their players as they garnered an even scoring slate. Their head coach, Hideyoshi Abo, also had the luxury of letting Nao Muranaga rest. Furthermore, the Japan team captain only played part of the third set, and scored just a single point. Misaki Yamauchi was devastating with her quick leaps that notched nine points, while Kaori Mabashi dished out eight points.

As a result of their horrendous reception, the Philippines gravely struggled to setup their offense as Alyssa Valdez was the only National who could consistently score against Japan. The Team Captain scored 15 points, but needed 40 attack attempts to get it. In addition, Jaja Santiago had her moments in the latter sets rattling Japan with her quick attacks. She finished with seven points on nine attack attempts, her low number of attempts being a direct result of the Philippines trouble with reception. In the end, Japan showed how well they can adjust on the fly and take away a team’s best option.

Japan gave the Philippines a free volleyball clinic, a fact that Coach Roger Gorayeb and Alyssa Valdez acknowledged. “Kung pwede lang araw-araw namin sila makalaban, para lang matutunan namin kung paano sila maglaro,” Coach Gorayeb said.

“It was a blessing for us that we got to play with Japan. Really, we learned a lot of lessons that should make us better,” Valdez remarked.

Japanese Head Coach, Hideyoshi Abo, revealed that his team only came together in two weeks, a statement that made both Coach Gorayeb and Alyssa Valdez cringe. “I’ve seen our players improve a lot in the three games we played in this tournament. The win against the Philippines made us more confident moving forward,” Coach Abo quipped.

The Philippines will have their final classification match against Chinese Taipei tomorrow at 7 p.m. It’s worth mentioning that Taipei took Japan to four close sets and just ran out of steam late in the match, so this may pose as a challenge for the home team.

Japan has Iran, who lost their match against Taipei earlier today, up next.

The Scores

Japan (3) – Yamauchi 9, Mabashi 8, Imamura 6, Inoue 6, Kodama 6, Sakamoto 5, Miura 4, Shibata 2, Higane 1, Muranaga 1, Namba 0, Kojima (L)

Philippines (0) – Valdez 15, Santiago 7, Soltones 6, Morado 3, Pablo 2, Sato 2, De Jesus 0, Laure 0, De Leon 0, Agno (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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