BINAN CITY: The NEC Red Rockets of Japan had a near-flawless performance to crush a taller, heftier Altay VC of Kazakhstan, 25-16, 25-17, 25-19, on Monday in the 2016 AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena.
With all cylinders on fire, the Japanese turned the battle into a lopsided affair and clobbered the Kazakhs in just 74 minutes, ending the first round on top of Group C of this tourney organized by the Philippine Superliga, Larong Volleyball sa , Pilipinas, Inc. and the city government of Binan headed by Congresswoman Len Alonte.
In other games, Bangkok Glass of Thailand dominated Sarmayeh Bank of Iran, 25-17, 25-12, 25-15, to sweep Pool B.
Team captain Pleumjit Thinkaow finished with 13 points for defending champion Bangkok Glass, which needed only one hour and 19 minutes to take the win.
Bangkok Glass has a 2-0 win-loss record entering the classification match to determine the placing for the quarterfinals.
Iran evened its record 1-1 and will also see action in the classification match for the quarterfinals placing.
Also, Thongtin Lien Viet Post Bank of Vietnam swept Pool A after it defeated Kwai Tsing of Hong Kong, 25-14, 23-25, 25-16, 25-18.
Team captain Do Thi Minh made 19 points for Thongtin Lien Viet Post Bank while Tran Ton Nu Ly Linh added 15.
With the win, the Vietnamese marched into the quarterfinals with a perfect 2-0 win-loss card in the group stage.
Hong Kong will play in the classification match and will be relagated for the battle for 9th-12th spot.
Top gun Sarina Koga and skipper Akari Oumi were impressive, but it was the Japanese’s all-around brilliance that led them to this rousing win in this match bankrolled by SMM Sports, Nike, Senoh, Mikasa, Foton, BMW, Rexona, PLDT and Price Waterhouse Cooper with Crimson Hotel as official residence and TV5 and SMM TV of Thailand as television partners.
Koga had 12 kills and an ace to finish with 14 points while Oumi chipped in 13 hits for the Japanese, who will be stacked against Foton Pilipinas in the classification phase Tuesday at 1:30 pm.
NEC Red Rockets coach Akinori Yamada said he is familiar with some of the Tornadoes, especially 6-foot-5 middle blocker Jaja Santiago and American import Ariel Usher.
He, however, remains confident that they can pull off a victory that is similar to their win over Kazakhstan, a team bannered by a handful of six-footers.
“I know some of the players like Santiago and Usher are very good. Their offense is very good. It’s going to be difficult but I know where going to win,” said Tamada through an interpreter.
“Well, you know, we maybe small players, but after this win over Kazakhstan, we are now more confident. It doesn’t depend on the height. We are confident.”
Foton Pilipinas coach Fabio Menta admitted that playing against NEC Red Rockets is like scaling a mountain and they have to be at their best to pull off an upset.
“We have to play above our level to defeat them,” he said, adding that their game against Kazakhstan on Wednesday will be the “game of our life.”
“Beating Kazakhstan means having an easier route to the semis, but also finally been able to be a consistent and efficient team in all our players without relying on individual super performance.”
But the biggest blow to Foton Pilipinas is the absence of import Lindsay Stalzer, who missed their game against Thongtin Lien Viet Post Bank of Vietnam after suffering from back spasms.
“Having Stalzer on the court is not a priority against Japan,” he said. “She won’t be on her top form anyway and we cannot waste her energy in an almost impossible match.”
Against Kazakhstan, the Japanese dominated the spiking department, 44-36, as well as services after connecting three aces. More than anything, Japan committed only nine errors, a testament of its perfection and discipline on both ends.
Russian import Olga Biryukova delivered 10 hits for Altay VC, which dominated Jakarta Elektrik of Indonesia in the opener before collapsing in the face of the Japanese.