Stockton scores 30+ twice for Oita in Japan Men's League

Suntory Sunbirds move into first place

Going into the weekend, Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler were the only team in the Japanese V1 Men's League that had not won a match all season. They prepared to take on VC Nagano Tridents for the first time this season.

On Saturday, Oita took a 2-1 lead against Nagano in their first match. The Tridents, however, pushed the match to five sets with a 25-19 fourth set win. At 7-5 in the fifth set, a spike by Australian Curtis Stockton and consecutive points by Kota Yamada (a spike and a block) gave Oita a five point lead. Bryan Bagunas ended the match for Oita with a spike, 15-10 fifth set, 3-2 sets to Oita.

Stockton led all scorers with 32 points (1 block) and Bagunas contributed 24 (2 blocks) in Oita's first win of the season. Oita dominated with a 24 kills (77-53) advantage, but Nagano were able to stay in the match with 18 fewer service errors (6-24) and six fewer hitting errors (7-13).

In Sunday's match, could Oita take their momentum from Saturday and make it a winning streak? Oita needed extra points to win the first set 27-25, and Nagano then pushed the second set also into extra points taking it 32-30 to tie the match at one set all.

A quick lead in both the third and fourth sets by Oita meant that Nagano could not catch up. Oita took the match 3-1 and now had a two-match win streak. Stockton with 33 (1 block and 2 aces) and Bagunas with 32 (3 blocks and 3 aces) were the spark plugs for the Oita offence. Indonesia's Rivan Nurmulki for Nagano had 33 (1 ace) in the loss for the Tridents. Nagano, however, retained a win and three point lead over Oita in the standings, despite losing to their opponents twice this weekend.

Suntory Sunbirds faced FC Tokyo in their two-match series over Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, Dmitriy Muserskiy had 24 points (4 blocks and 1 ace) to lead the Sunbirds to a 3-0 sweep. Serbia's Petar Premovic had 15 (1 block and 1 ace) for Tokyo in the loss.

On Sunday, Muserskiy with 29 points (2 blocks and 3 aces) and Yuma Nagatomo with 27 (1 block) fought to a draw, but Masahiro Yanagida with 15 (1 block and 5 aces) and Kenya Fujinaka (3 blocks and an ace) for Suntory provided support in the 3-2 win.

Toray Arrows and Panasonic Panthers split their two matches over the weekend. On Saturday, Toray's Hungarian opposite Krisztian Padar had 36 (an ace) in their 3-1 win, while on Sunday Kunihiro Shimizu for Panasonic led all scorers with 24 (2 blocks, 3 aces) in the Panthers' 3-0 win.

Wolfdogs Nagoya tried to keep pace with both Suntory and Panasonic against JT Thunders Hiroshima in their two-match series. On Saturday, Nagoya had a 2-1 sets lead, but the Thunders came from behind to win the match in five sets, 3-2. Poland's Bartosz Kurek for Nagoya was dominant with 40 points (3 blocks and an ace), but the Thunders used blocking (10-6) and fewer errors to defeat the Wolfdogs. On Sunday, Kurek was unstoppable with 32 (4 blocks) in a Nagoya 3-0 win.

Lastly, JTEKT Stings met the Sakai Blazers in their two-match series. The Stings used Yuji Nishida heavily in the two matches, both of which produced 3-1 wins. Nishida had 32 (2 blocks and 3 aces) on Saturday and 27 (4 blocks and 5 aces) to keep the Stings in fourth place.

Match results for February 6, 2021
Suntory Sunbirds - FC Tokyo 3-0 (25-19, 26-24, 26-24)
Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler - VC Nagano Tridents 3-2 (25-23, 18-25, 25-22, 19-25, 15-10)
JTEKT Stings - Sakai Blazers 3-1 (25-23, 25-22, 25-27, 25-20)
Toray Arrows - Panasonic Panthers 3-1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21)
JT Thunders Hiroshima - Wolfdogs Nagoya 3-2 (22-25, 25-19, 24-26, 25-22, 15-8)

Match results for February 7, 2021
Suntory Sunbirds - FC Tokyo 3-2 (18-25, 25-15, 30-28, 27-29, 15-8)
JTEKT Stings - Sakai Blazers 3-1 (22-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-20)
Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler - VC Nagano Tridents 3-1 (27-25, 30-32, 25-17, 25-17)
Panasonic Panthers - Toray Arrows 3-0 (25-18, 25-14, 25-20)
Wolfdogs Nagoya - JT Thunders Hiroshima 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-23) 

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