Jaja Santiago, Ageo Medics win five-set thriller over JT Marvelous

Not even Brankica Mihajlovic can prevent Jaja Santiago, Katarina Barun Susnjar, and the rest of the Ageo Medics from winning their Japanese V.League Women’s Division 2nd preliminary leg in five sets.

The Medics held a 10-8 lead in the first set before the JT Marvelous overtook the edge at 12-11. Ageo responded with a 9-0 run to put the set away. JT saved two set points from 24-17 before the Medics took set one at 25-19. Ageo’s 6-0 edge in blocks and JT’s nine unforced errors helped the Medics’ cause.

It was all JT Marvelous in the second set though as they raced to an early 3-0 lead and never looked back. They mounted a lead as high as nine, 21-12, before ending the set at 25-17. It was their turn to take the edge in blocks, 4-1, while Ageo committed seven errors during the set.

Ageo enjoyed a 4-2 lead early in the third set when JT Marvelous initiated a 6-1 run to open up a three point lead, 8-5. They just kept adding on to their lead which went as high as ten, 21-11. Both teams basically traded points from that tally as JT won set three, 25-16.

The tightly-contested fourth set had JT Marvelous leading at 10-8. However, the Medics were able to take the lead at 16-15. Ageo led by three, 21-18, before JT’s 4-1 narrowed the gap to 22-21. Katarina Barun Susnjar’s successful spike forced a fifth set as Ageo took set four, 25-23.

Susnjar caught fire as the Medics opened up an 11-6 margin from a 5-5 deadlock in the fifth set. However, JT Marvelous made a 5-2 run of their own to trim the deficit to two, 13-11. Mihajlovic, who hasn’t played all game, then checked in for JT Marvelous at that point. But Keti Barun made a successful attack off the Serbian world champion to bring the Ageo Medics at set point.

A Mihajlovic attack and an Susnjar attack error brought JT Marvelous to within one, 14-13. But the Croatian import sealed the victory at 15-13 for the Ageo Medics with another successful conversion.

Santiago had five attacks, three blocks, and an ace for the Medics. Susnjar had a monster game with 26 attacks and three blocks. Horie Miyuki contributed 18 spike points, three blocks and an ace for Ageo while Yuri Yoshino added 11. On the other hand, Mizuki Tanaka led the way for JT Marvelous with 29 points, 28 off attacks, while Kotona Hayashi tallied 26 markers. Aika Akutagawa collected 11 points off spikes and two kill blocks for JT.

The Ageo Medics improve their win-loss record to 7-7 and climbed to the third spot in the V.League Division 1 Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, JT Marvelous suffered only their fourth loss in 13 matches and are also in third spot at the Western Conference.

Jaja Santiago and the Medics will play the NEC Red Rockets tomorrow (January 20) at 12 nn, Philippine time. Meanwhile, the JT Marvelous will try to bounce back against Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Jana Kulan, Ai Kurogo, Mari Horikawa, and the Toray Arrows on January 26 at 2 pm, PH time.

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