Ablaze try to seal title series clash with Cool Smashers

Kurashiki’s defense will be its prime focus against PLDT.—AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Kurashiki’s defense will be its prime focus against PLDT. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Kurashiki is playing its kind of game and has—so far—managed to shut out the noise of rowdy fans rooting for home teams in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference.

That crowd noise will hit its crescendo if the Ablaze wins over PLDT Thursday as the guest Japanese squad shoots for a place in the title series where arguably the country’s most popular squad is waiting.

“Our audience in Japan is not as many here [in the PVL] so we were a bit nervous in the last set because F2 fans cheered loud,” Kurashiki coach Hideo Suzuki said through an interpreter after a 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 win over the Cargo Movers on Tuesday moved them on the cusp of the second finals slot.

Winning over the High Speed Hitters in the 4 p.m. match would seal that showdown with Creamline, which commands a rabid following and could easily unsettle any opposing team.

“We stayed composed,” said Akane Hiraoka, the best player in that win over F2. “[Creamline] is also a good team [with a lot of fans] so we can’t be discouraged and we have to play strong.”

“Like F2, PLDT is a tall team. But we will do our best, particularly in receive,” said Suzuki, who vowed that his team will play stingy defense. “We won’t allow the ball to drop and keep on receiving. If we continue to do it, we won’t lose.”

Suzuki also knows what’s at stake and is actually looking forward to the finals.

“Creamline is a tall and great offensive and defensive team. It will be a good match,” said Suzuki.

Creamline booked the first finals seat also Tuesday with a tough 25-23, 25-23, 25-17 win over Kinh Bac-Back Ninh.

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