Kurashiki Ablaze to return to PVL to defend Invitationals title next season
MANILA, Philippines — The Kurashiki Ablaze will defend their crown in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference next season with Sports Vision president Ricky Palou inviting them to play again in 2024.
“They already asked if they could come back for next year. I told them, of course, we will invite you again to defend your crown. So most likely they will come back,” Palou told reporters.
Kurashiki coach Hideo Suzuki said the third-division Japanese club will “100 percent” return to the country if they will be invited to defend their title.
The Ablaze, led by top scorer Asaka Tamaru and Finals MVP and setter Kyoka Ohshima, swept all their six matches in the midseason tournament of the PVL including back-to-back wins over the most successful Philippine club Creamline.
Tamaru nailed the championship-clinching ace as Kurashiki dethroned Creamline in a five-set thriller, 19-25, 25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 15-13, in the winner-take-all Invitational Conference Final last Sunday in front of 8,223 fans at Philsports Arena.
The Japanese also helped out in cleaning the court right after winning their championship.
Palou was glad that the visiting Japanese team enjoyed their stay in the country, where they also had an outreach program in Tondo, Manila a day before the championship game.
“In fact the Japanese team, except for the coaching staff, first time nilang pumunta sa Pilipinas. Some of them first time to go out of Japan so enjoy na enjoy din sila dito. They never experienced volleyball in Japan like what they experienced [here]. Gulat na gulat nga sila but they enjoyed, masaya sila,” he said.
The PVL chief also lauded Kurashiki and Creamline after their nail-biting championship game, where the Japanese erased a 13-12 deficit in the fifth by scoring three straight points capped by Tamaru’s cold-blooded ace.
“I’m very happy with the results of the two conferences, it exceeded our expectations, especially this Invitational Conference. we’re really very happy about the outcome and I’m sure the people watching volleyball enjoyed the two conferences that we had. Especially the championship game of the Invitational, the Creamline against Japan,” Palou said.
“Of course, the crowd favorite Creamline natalo sila but even if they lost it went to five sets na dikit-dikit [ang score] so masaya. Everybody was there at the Philsports and enjoyed the game. That’s what we want to give to the volleyball fans that they enjoy watching volleyball games.”
Kurashiki, which also drew contributions from Akane Hiraoka, Yukino Nano, Miho Kawamura, Saki Tanabe, and libero Kaoru Takahashi, flew back to Japan last Monday, bringing a precious PVL experience ahead of its local league in November.
The PVL, on the other hand, will stage another All-Filipino Conference starting in October to cap the 2023 season.