Japan team Maruichi Hyogo cop Spikers' Turf bronze | Inquirer Sports

Japan team Maruichi Hyogo cop Spikers’ Turf bronze

/ 08:03 PM December 15, 2023

Maruichi’s Yuji Kawagoe

Maruichi’s Yuji Kawagoe. — PVL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Yuji Kawagoe was a man possessed, helping Japanese team Maruichi Hyogo survive Saints and Lattes Letran, 20-25, 25-16, 25-21, 22-25, 15-11, and end their  Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference stint with a bronze medal on Friday at FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.

Erupting for 32 points, Kawagoe delivered nine of the Maruichi’s 15 points in the fifth as the Japanese displayed grace under pressure despite dropping the fourth set, which allowed Letran to force a decider behind Vince Himzon’s 21-point effort.

The Maruichi ace scored four straight points for a 5-2 start in the fifth set, which set the tone for their dominant showing in the frame before he scored the last two points to end the grueling two-hour match.


Japanese coach Kota Kunichika was all praises for Kawagoe, who hit 31 of his 55 attack attempts along with a a steady floor defense with 21 excellent receptions.

“Yuji has so much passion and I love it,” said Kunichika through an interpreter. “The players showed their fighting spirit. This was the first time we went to the fifth set and we are happy we showed our hearts. We feel very happy for this third place.”

Kyosuke Kashimoto also saved the best for last, powering the Hyogo with 23 points built on 19 attacks, three aces, and a block, while Hinata Kuroda chipped in 18 points and seven digs.

Maruichi lost three of its four matches in the semifinal round but won its most important game to reach the podium.  


Kunichika believes his wards learned a lot from their short Spikers’ Turf stint, expressing their interest in coming back next season.

“The volleyball here is different compared to Japan. The players gained a lot of experience here. We want to come back to Spikers’ Turf in the future,” the Japanese coach said.


Letran, which finished third in the semis with a 2-2 record, placed fourth in the tournament ahead of the NCAA tournament next year.

Himzon led the Saints with 19 attacks and two aces, while John Derrick Bautista had 11 points.

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TAGS: Japan, Letran, spikers’ turf

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