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Kurashiki Ablaze beat Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh in semis opener


Kurashiki of Japan relied on its vaunted floor defense and on the hot hands of Asaka Tamaru to turn back Vietnam’s Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh, 23-25, 25-14, 25-20, 25-11, in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference semifinal Saturday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Tamaru made her presence felt in the Ablaze’s Philippine debut, firing away with game-high 29 points anchored on 28 attacks to help Japan complete a come-from-behind win.

“I was a bit tentative at first because they’re putting up high blocks. But slowly I was able to adjust that’s why I got the points,” Tamaru said through an interpreter.

The Japanese fought back from a first set meltdown to frustrate the Vietnamese in the two-hour, 56-minute encounter.

Skipper Yukino Yano had 17 markers while Saya Taniguchi added 10 markers for the Ablaze. Libero Kaoru Takahashi accounted for 31 of the Japanese Division III club’s 73 digs.

Kurashiki outgunned Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh, 65-40, on kills and denied its Vietnamese rivals any chance of landing an ace off 71 attempts.

“Thank you very much for inviting us to this competition. We hope to level up our game,” Ablaze coach Hideo Suzuki said as his wards battle Cignal on Monday.

Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh failed to sustain its good start as it fell victim to Japan’s disciplined defensive sets and Tamaru’s explosiveness.

Nguyen Huong finished with 14 points while Nguyen Oanh got 10 for the  Vietnamese squad, which will take on PLDT on Monday.


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