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Japan’s Kurashiki Ablaze finish their PVL Invitational Conference campaign undefeated with a heart-stopping five-set dethroning of the Creamline Cool Smashers to become the league’s first ever foreign champion
MANILA, Philippines – For the first time in PVL history, an overseas team can call itself a champion after Japan’s elite Kurashiki Ablaze dethroned the Creamline Cool Smashers, 19-25, 25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 15-13, to top the 2023 Invitational Conference at the sold-out PhilSports Arena on Sunday, July 30.
With the win in the knockout final, the Japan V. League Division III squad etched its name in the league’s hall of champions alongside Creamline, Petro Gazz, BaliPure, Pocari Sweat, and Chery Tiggo.
Super scorer Asaka Tamaru finished with a 29-point eruption off 28 attacks and the championship-clinching ace, while Akane Hiraoka scored 14 to lead the team’s four other double-digit scorers.
Three-time MVP Tots Carlos went down swinging in the heartbreaking loss with 27 points off 26 attacks.
Former Finals MVP Ced Domingo added 20 points off 13 attacks, 5 blocks, and 2 aces, while Jema Galanza – another ex-MVP – scored 18, hiked by 33 excellent sets from eight-time Best Setter Jia de Guzman.
Meanwhile, the Cignal HD Spikers clinched the tournament’s bronze medal off a four-set win against the F2 Cargo Movers, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 25-18.
Former Best Setter Gel Cayuna led the win with 30 excellent sets to go with 6 points, while Ces Molina topscored with 19 points.
Off-season recruit Jovelyn Gonzaga added 18 points as Roselyn Doria carried the fourth-set blowout with 10.
Ivy Lacsina paced the conference-ending loss with 16 points as F2 settled for fourth place in the 13-team field. – Rappler.com