international volleyball

Espejo, Tokyo stun top-ranked Sakai; Santiago, Bagunas post mixed results

JR Isaga
Espejo, Tokyo stun top-ranked Sakai; Santiago, Bagunas post mixed results

UPSET. Marck Espejo (left) and FC Tokyo post their fourth win in the Japan V. League.

FC Tokyo Instagram page

FC Tokyo's Marck Espejo and Ageo Medics' Jaja Santiago both earn wins, while Bryan Bagunas and Oita Miyoshi absorb another loss

MANILA, Philippines – Marck Espejo and FC Tokyo earned a much-needed momentum boost in their Japan V. League campaign as they stunned the top-ranked Sakai Blazers in a grueling four-set win, 25-17, 25-20, 15-25, 25-19, on Saturday, December 4.

The newly-named V. League All-Star import was one of three Tokyo players in double-digit scoring as he finished with 10 points, all off attacks on a 46% conversion rate.

Fellow reinforcement Jonas Kvalen led the upset bid with 23 markers on 21 attacks and 2 blocks, while Yuma Nagatomo added 16 points as Tokyo rose to a 4-9 record.

Sharone Vernon-Evans and Yuki Higuchi led the losing effort with 18 and 13 markers, respectively, as the Blazers fizzled down to a 10-3 slate, tied with the Toray Arrows still in first place.

Bryan Bagunas, on the other hand, did not have the same winning fortune as the Suntory Sunbirds outlasted Oita Miyoshi in a five-set thriller, 25-20, 25-27, 25-27, 25-18, 15-12.

Bagunas led the heartbreaking loss with 26 points on 23 attacks and 3 blocks as the ninth-ranked Oita ultimately collapsed to a 2-11 record after back-to-back 27-25 victories in the second and third frames.

Only Suntory’s Alain De Armas Berrio outscored Bagunas as he finished with a game-high 28 markers on 25 attacks and 3 aces for a Sunbirds side that rose to a 9-4 slate for third place in the 10-team field.

Jaja Santiago, meanwhile, continued her winning ways over at the women’s division as the Saitama Ageo Medics edged the Hitachi Rivale in four sets, 25-18, 18-25, 25-18, 25-23.

The reigning Premier Volleyball League champion and MVP, however, was again overshadowed by her high-scoring teammates, as she finished with just 7 points off 4 blocks and 3 attacks.

Mami Uchiseto and Lorenne Teixeira led the way for the sixth-ranked Saitama side with 19 points apiece. Yuka Sato was not far behind in scoring as well with 17 markers to her name as they rose to an 8-5 record.

Miwako Osanai paced the loss with 17 points on 16 attacks and 1 ace as the Rivale slid down to a 5-8 record for eighth place in the 12-team division.

All teams return to action right away on Sunday, December 5, for rematches against their respective opponents. –