YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – A new champion will be crowned Thursday in the Far East High School Division II Girls Volleyball Tournament.
Defending champion Osan was dethroned on Wednesday at Yokota’s Samurai Fitness Center, as Sacred Heart took down the Cougars in four sets, 17-25, 25-22, 25-9, 25-15.
The best the Cougars can do is third place, and they need two victories on Thursday to get there.
Meanwhile, four teams remain in the chase for the title. Top playoff seed Matthew C. Perry squares off against Zama in the first of two semifinals Thursday at 8 a.m., followed by Robert D. Edgren and the Symbas at 10.
The final is slated for 6 p.m. with Edgren chasing its second straight finals berth and the Samurai aiming for their first in school history.
The Division I volleyball final features teams quite familiar with each other over the last couple of seasons.
Defending champion Kubasaki tees it up against American School In Japan, champions from 2011-13 and runner-up last year, in the D-I title match at 3 p.m. Thursday at Seoul American.
The teams have met three times already this season, with the Mustangs leading 2-1. Included in those three matches was the final of ASIJ’s Yujo Tournament last month, which the Dragons won 25-22, 25-23.
“We are going to play to win and take it point by point,” Kubasaki sophomore middle blocker Chloe Stevens said. “More importantly, we’re going to play as a team and no matter what, go down swinging.”
Tennis The final matches in the Far East tennis tournament on Okinawa are also set, with defending singles champions Marius Ruh of St. Mary’s and ASIJ’s Lili Kobayashi each taking on new foes in Thursday’s championships.
Seoul American’s Grace Cho, who played and lost last year’s final to Kobayashi, didn’t make it that far this time, losing in Wednesday’s semifinal 6-1, 6-1 to Matilde Piras of Seisen, whom Cho beat in a marathon three-set semifinal last year.
“She was really good,” Cho said of Piras. “My serves were really bad; all of them were going out. And the wind kind of affected me a lot.”
“I’m so happy,” Piras said, adding that the difference between this year’s and last year’s semifinal was not letting Cho dictate the pace. “Make her run and be in control,” Piras said.
Kobayashi, meanwhile, downed Seisen’s Ana Clara Borga 6-1, 6-2 in the other semifinal, setting up a finals showdown with Piras, who has beaten Kobayashi three times this season.
“I have nothing to lose,” Kobayashi said of facing Piras in the last match she’ll play in Mustangs black and yellow. “It’s sad to think about. But I’m going to do my best.”
The boys final is to be an all Titans affair, with Ruh meeting senior teammate Juan Borga. Ruh beat ASIJ’s Noah Inahara 6-2, 6-0 in one semifinal, while Borga dispatched ASIJ’s Len Kamemoto – a finalist last year – in a 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 6-2 marathon.
“I don’t know how I crossed the finish line,” Borga said. “It’s all about the mental game. He (Kamemoto) makes me strive to work harder.”
Ruh said he was concerned when he fell behind Inahara 1-2 and 0-40. “I really had to make sure he wouldn’t get another break” of service, Ruh said after rallying to take the game and settle things down. “That was the turning point.”