PVL: Kurashiki aims to continue dominance, guns for finals slot vs PLDT

Kurashiki Ablaze PVL

Kurashiki Ablaze. MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — The Kurashiki Ablaze seek to continue flaunting their volleyball style as they gun for a final showdown against defending champion Creamline in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference.

Japan’s Division 3 team has been unstoppable in their first three games in the semifinal round, dominating Vietnam’s Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh, Cignal, and F2 Logistics without dropping a single set and ending their victims’ championship hopes.

Kurashiki, which has a clean 3-0 slate, tries to book the last final ticket against the PLDT High Speed Hitters, who are still in contention with a 2-2 record, on Thursday at Philsports Arena.

Ablaze coach Hideo Suzuki instructs his wards to do the same — display their resilient and discipline floor defense — in their crucial 4 p.m. game against the High Speed Hitters, who won two in a row to keep their final hopes alive.

“We will continue to show the Kurashiki Ablaze volleyball style. We won’t allow the ball to drop and keep on receiving. If we continue to do it, we won’t lose. Let’s do our best,” said Hideo through a translator after their 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 win over the undermanned F2 Logistics on Tuesday evening.

Akane Hiraoka, who was the player of the game against F2 with nine points off six attacks, two aces, and a block, stressed that PLDT is also a tall and defensive team bannered by middle blockers Mika Reyes and Dell Palomata and libero Kath Arado as well as two-way players Fiola Ceballos and Mich Morente.

“PLDT is also tall. They are also good in defending and receiving so we have to focus on those [areas],” said Akane.

The visiting team is also bracing for their final semis match against Creamline on Friday, which could be the preview of the Invitational gold medal match.

“I think Creamline is a tall and great offensive and defensive team. It will be a good match. We will do our best,” said coach Hideo.

The Japanese player admitted that they got intimidated by the F2 Logistics fans at some point so they have to stay composed in their remaining games.

“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. But in the end, we stayed composed,” said Akane. “[Creamline] is also a good team [with a lot of fans] so we can’t be discouraged and we have to play strong.”


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