Going into Matchday 5, the battle for first place between Toyota Gosei Trefuerza and Panasonic Panthers, who were both undefeated, similar points and sets ratio was the main story. Panasonic had a tough season with injuries last year and Toyota lost in the final to Toray last year, so both teams wanted to make a statement to the league and each other, “The road to the championship goes through us.” Trefuerza took a comfortable 2-0 set advantage over the Panthers. But Panasonic responded two comfortable set wins to take the match to a fifth set. Trefuerza had a 14-10 lead, but Panasonic fought off three match points, before Igor Omrcen finished the match with his 38th kill and 40th point (2a) to lead all scorers. His Toyota teammate Takuya Takamatsu had 5 aces in the match. Poland’s Michal Kubiak (18k, 1b, 1a) and Kunihiro Shimizu (19k, 1a) each had 20 for Panasonic. The Trefuerza are now in first with a 5-0 record.
FC Tokyo was looking for their first win of the season against Toray Arrows. The Arrows were looking to reach 3 wins and stay in the hunt for the playoffs. Toray got out to a 2-0 set lead, but FC Tokyo comfortably took the 3rd set. FC had led late in the 4th set, but could not hold it as Toray won the set 25-23 and the match 3-1. FC Tokyo’s Bosian Milan Pepic had 32 points (28 k, 4 a) to lead all scorers. Canadian Gavin Schmitt for Toray had 22 points. Takaaki Tomimatsu with 5 block for Toray and Takashi Takenami with 4 blocks for FC Tokyo were the leading blockers.
JT Thunders faced winless Sakai Blazers in Fukui City, Fukui prefecture. Sakai has had a tough start to the season and they looked competitive in the first two sets, in which JT won by the minimum 2 points in each set. However, in the third set, JT said, “Enough” and swept the match 3-0. Australian Thomas Edgar for JT had 30 points (27k, 2b, 1a) to lead all scorers. Brazilian Wallace Martins for Sakai seems to be their only offensive option with 19 points (18k, 1a).
JTEKT Stings had lost their last two matches, while the Suntory Sunbirds who had won their last two matches. The Stings won the first set, which went extra points 26-24. JTEKT then took the next two sets comfortably to sweep the match 3-0. Bulgarian Matey Kaziyski (12k, 4b) and Ryosuke Hakamaya (14k, 2a) both led all scorers for JTEKT with 16 points. Cuban Yadrian Escobar had 12 points leading Suntory.
Results for Matchday 5, November 5, 2017
Toyota Gosei Trefuerza 3-2 Panasonic Panthers (25-20, 25-18, 18-25, 20-25, 15-13)
Toray Arrows 3-1 FC Tokyo (25-20, 26-24, 18-25, 25-23)
JT Thunders 3-0 Sakai Blazers (25-23, 31-29, 25-12)
JTEKT Stings 3-0 Suntory Sunbirds (26-24, 25-17, 25-19)
Schedule for Matchday 6, November 11, 2017
Toray Arrows vs. Panasonic Panthers
JTEKT Stings vs. JT Thunders
Toyota Gosei Trefuerza vs. FC Tokyo
Suntory Sunbirds vs. Sakai Blazers