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Yusi Kawagoe drops 32 vs Letran, lifts Maruichi to Spikers’ Turf bronze


Maruichi Hyogo capped its run in the inaugural Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference with a third-place finish after trumping Saints and Lattes-Letran in a thriller, 20-25, 25-16, 25-21, 22-25, 15-11, Friday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.

Yuji Kawagoe unleashed all his might in the fifth and deciding frame, dropping nine of his 32 points there. His spiking efficiency was through the roof for a wing spiker, making 31 of his 55 attempts while also tallying one block and 21 excellent receptions.

Vince Himzon tried to rally the Saint Spikers in the fifth with back-to-back points on a quick kill and an ace to inch within two, 10-12, but Kawagoe responded with two straight attacks of his own to put Hyogo at match point.

Bembem Bautista got one back for Letran but Kawagoe went up anew for an off-the-block attack to finish the match in one hour and 58 minutes.

“The players showed their fighting spirit. This was the first time we went to the fifth set and we are happy we showed our hearts. We feel very happy for this third place,” said Maruichi head coach Kota Kunichika through an interpreter.

The Hyogo-based squad ended their campaign with back-to-back wins after also beating Perpetual-Kinto Tyres last Tuesday in the semis.

The Japanese guest team also avenged their semifinals loss to the Saint Spikers last Saturday, 25-23, 13-25, 23-25, 20-25.

Kyosuke Kashimoto backed Kawagoe with 23 points on 19 spikes, three aces, and a block, while team captain Hinata Kuroda added 18 points for Maruichi, which expressed their desire to return to the Spikers’ Turf soon.

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Kyosuke Maruyama tossed 31 excellent sets while libero Ren Wakamatu shone with 17 receptions and 11 digs.

“The volleyball here is different compared to Japan. The players gained a lot of experience here. We want to come back to Spikers’ Turf in the future,” said Kunichika.

Middle blocker Himzon paced the Saint Spikers with 21 points on 19 spikes and two aces, while Bautista had 11 points.

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Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.


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