December 12, 2023

Maruichi repels Perpetual, earns shot at bronze

Maruichi Hyogo finally broke through, fending off Kinto Tyres-Perpetual in three tight sets to hack out a 29-27, 25-20, 25-22 victory and qualify for the bronze medal match in the Spikers’ Turf Invitational Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig Tuesday.

Yuji Kawagoue put up another superb all-around performance – but came away with the elusive win this time. He tallied a game-high 24 points and finished with 17 excellent receptions and eight digs to lead the visiting squad’s triumph in one hour and 24 minutes.

“Finally, we could play our system. We had a lot of meetings and we discussed a lot so we could see and know our system,” said Kota Kunichika, head coach of Maruichi Hyogo, which yielded shutout losses to Cignal and National U and lost in four to Letran.

The Japanese pulled away midway in the third frame, 20-13, after a Hinata Kuroda block on Sean Codeniera. But Jefferson Marapoc sparked a Perpetual comeback, leading a 5-1 rally to pull the team to within, 20-23.

But Kawagoe and Kyosuke Kashimoto negated the Altas’ last two points to pound out the victory for a 1-3 record.

“They are trying to hit attacks against high and tall blockers so I could see that the mentality against stronger teams is getting better,” added Kunichika.

Kuroda backstopped Kawagoe with 16 points while Kashimoto chipped in 15 markers.

Kyosuke Maruyama tossed 24 excellent sets and Ren Kwamatu posted 12 excellent digs.

Perpetual ended up without a win in the five-team round robin semis. Marapoc led the Altas with 19 points on 15 attacks, three blocks and an ace.

Kobe Tabuga added 17 points while top spiker Louie Ramirez was held to just two markers.

The Japanese will mix it up with the Saints Spikers at 3:30 p.m. on Friday for third place honors before the 5:30 p.m. one-game title face-off between Cignal and National U.