Coming into today’s matchday, the Panasonic Panthers had a 3-game lead over the team in second place, Toray Arrows. Panasonic had won six matches in a row and looked to continue that streak. Toray was looking to get back on the winning track after losing to Sakai in matchday 11. Pansaonic in this match was just dominant from start to end. Panasonic dominated at the end both in spiking (hitting percentage of .557) and blocking with 10 blocks. You know your team has had a tough day when your hired gun hits .107 for the 3 sets, and Gavin Schmitt for Toray did that. Kunihiro Shimzu, Tatsuya Fukuzawa and Kenji Shirasawa had 3 blocks each and Michal Kubiak led all scorers with 14 for Panasonic. Panasonic with the win essentially has a 4-win lead, as the second place team would need to gain 12 points to pass the Panthers.
Suntory Sunbirds and Sakai Blaers faced off in an Osaka area derby for 6th and possibly 5th place if results worked in the favor of the winner. The Sunbirds took a 2-0 set lead, but the Blazers won the third set to make it 2-1 sets Sunbirds. The Sunbirds had a 16-13 lead in the fourth set, however the Blazers then scored five straight points to lead 18-16. Sakai could not keep the lead as the Sunbirds went on 6-1 run to win the set 25-20 and match 3-1. Sakai will be kicking themselves because they had an 8 point advantage in the match with service aces (12-4), but they gave that advantage back with 7 more service errors (16-9). Suntory won the blocking battle 13-8. Kentaro Hoshiya and Kenya Fujinaka had 5 and 4 blocks respectively for the Sunbirds. Cuban Yadrian Escobar for Suntory led all scorers with 18 (17k, 1a). Shunsuke Chijiki for the Blazers had 16 (13k, 1b, 2a) and Brazilian Wallace Martins had 5 aces as part of his 12 points (7k) for Sakai. Suntory moved into 5th place with their win. Sakai remained in 7th place.
FC Tokyo met Toyota Gosei Trefuerza. Trefuerza were looking to build a two-game winning streak without their Croatian star Igor Omrcen. While FC Tokyo were trying to get their first win of the season. FC Tokyo had taken Trefuerza to five sets in their first meeting earlier in the season. This was a close match throughout, but the slight spiking advantage (53-50) and slight blocking advantage (12-9) gave the match to Trefuerza 3-1. FC Tokyo’s Milan Pepic led all scorers with 24 points (19k, 3b, 2a) in the loss. Takuya Takamatsu had 20 (18k, 1b, 1a), while Shuzo Yamada with 17 (15k, 2a), Hirotaka Kon with 5 blocks as part of his 14 (9k) and Ryota Denda with 4 blocks helped Toyota win. Toyota moved into 3rd place with the win.
In a battle of teams with Js in their names, JT Thunders faced JTEKT Stings. This match was close throughout as well, with only the fourth set being decided by more than two points. JTEKT won the blocking battle 12-3, but the Thunders won the spiking battle by 11 (+9 kills and -2 errors) and that gave them the match 3-1. It is not often when JT’s Australian Thomas Edgar is outscored in a win. JTEKT’s Bulgarian Matey Kaziyski had 38 points (34k, 1b, 3a), while Edgar had 27 (26k, 1b). Edgar received support from his Thunders teammates Daisuke Yako and Shohei Yamamoto each with 16 kills. JT moves into 2nd place, tied on wins with Trefuerza but ahead on points (23-22).
Results for Matchday 12, December 3, 2017
Panasonic Panthers 3-0 Toray Arrows (25-20, 25-14, 25-13)
Suntory Sunbirds 3-1 Sakai Blazers (25-23, 25-20, 19-25, 25-20)
Toyota Gosei Trefuerza 3-1 FC Tokyo (22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-23)
JT Thunders 3-1 JTEKT Stings (25-27, 25-23, 25-23, 25-20)
Schedule for Matchday 13, December 9, 2017
Toray Arrows vs JT Thunders
Toyota Gosei Trefuerza vs. Suntory Sunbirds
FC Tokyo vs. JT Stings
Panasonic Panthers vs. Sakai Blazers