Jaja Santiago and the Ageo Medics had a chance to take the top spot in the Japanese V.League Women’s Division 1 Eastern Conference from the NEC Lady Rockets. However, the Denso Airybees spoiled the party with a five-set victory.
The opening set was closely fought until the count reached 21-all. However, the Medics made four straight points to close the set at 25-21. The second set was also closely fought as both the Airybees and the Medics traded points down the wire. Still, Ageo reached set point courtesy of a Katarina Barun Susnjar’s successful attack. Yet, the Airybees took a point back with a soft tip by Sinead Jack. But Barun ended set two for Ageo, 25-23.
From a 9-9 tie in the third set, the Airybees opened a 16-12 advantage entering the second technical timeout. Their domination continued throughout the rest of the set as a quick spike by outside hitter Rei Kudo gave them set point and a tip by Jack from an Ageo overreception gave them set three, 25-16.
Both teams fought tooth and nail in the fourth set. But from a 20-20 tie, the Airybees mounted a 5-1 run to send the match to a fifth set, 25-21. Two consecutive off-target spikes by Barun helped Denso extend the game to a race-to-15 decider.
In the fifth set, a running attack by Jack brought the Airybees to set point but a succeeding attack by Barun took a point back. But the high-scoring Medics reinforcement handed the victory to Denso when her spike sailed out to end the match at 15-12.
Jaja Santiago had eight attack points in 15 attempts, one block, and two aces. Barun tallied 26 points while Horie Miyuki and Yuri Yoshino both had 12 markers. On the other hand, Jack led the Airybees with 24 attacks, four blocks, and an ace. Minami Nakamoto had 20 while Yui Asahi posted 17 points. Kudo chipped in 11 for the winning team.
The loss ended the Ageo Medics’ preliminary round run at 11-9 with 32 match points. Meanwhile, Denso is right behind with at 10-10 slate and 29 points. Both teams will enter the Final Eight together with the other Eastern Conference teams NEC Red Rockets and Hitachi Rivale. On the flip side, the Hisamitsu Springs, JT Marvelous, Toyota Auto Body Queenseis, and the Toray Arrows will move on from the Western Conference.
The Ageo Medics will start the Final Eight against the JT Marvelous on March 3 at 12:30 pm Philippine time.