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Ablaze burn path closer to PVL finals

Skipper Kyoka Oshima leads Kurashiki Ablaze to a quick sweep of Cignal to boost its finals bid in the PVL Invitational Conference. (PVL photo)

Kurashiki Ablaze stormed past stunned Cignal, 25-23, 25-16, 25-23, to inch closer to a finals seat in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference Monday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

The Japanese guest team banked on the superb playmaking of skipper Kyoka Oshima to torch the defense of the HD Spikers as the Ablaze improved to a 2-0 carryover win-loss record.

Oshima, who skipped Kurashiki’s opening game win over King Bac-Bac Ninh of Vietnam after feeling under the weather, tallied 22 excellent sets including crucial plays in the third set that sparked her team’s comeback from an early five-point deficit before pulling through in the nip-and-tuck closing stretch.

Japan once again flexed its vaunted floor defense and disciplined plays to turn back Cignal, tallying 62 excellent digs and 22 excellent receptions.

“We felt that Cignal has the stronger offense, so we just focused our defense to give them a good match,” Ablaze head coach Hideo Suzuki said as his wards sent the HD Spikers reeling to a second straight defeat.

The HD Spikers are now on the brink of missing the bus ride to the finals with a 1-3 slate.

Kurashiki battles F2 Logistics (1-2) Tuesday.

Asaka Tamaru followed her 29-point performance against Vietnam with 16 markers highlighted by a 15-of-37 spiking clip for Japan. Saya Taniguchi and Yukino Yano finished with 11 and 10 markers, respectively.

The Ablaze fought back from 8-13 down in the third set with six unanswered points to take the lead. Cignal regained the lead, 23-22, after a kill by Jacq Acuna.

Saki Tanabe responded with back-to-back hits before Acuna committed an attack error that cost the HD Spikers the game.

Ces Molina was the only Cignal player in double figures with 12 points while Rachel Anne Daquis had five.

The HD Spikers square off against Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh on Thursday.

Meanwhile, defending champion Creamline seeks to secure a finals slot in an all-important battle against Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh Tuesday.

The Cool Smashers are just a win away from punching a return ticket to the gold medal match sporting a perfect 3-0 carryover record.

Relying on the trio of reigning conference Most Valuable Player Tots Carlos, skipper Alyssa Valdez and Jema Galanza, Creamline scored back-to-back five-setter wins over F2 Logistics and Cignal.

Cool Smashers head coach Sherwin Meneses expects the same performance from the trio as well as from the rest of his star-studded squad when they meet the Vietnamese fresh from a two-day rest.

Creamline has yet to drop a match after six outings in the mid-season tournament.

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