Whatever happens to the Philippine team in the 2015 Asian Women’s Under-23 Volleyball Championship barely matters at all, because after Jaja Santiago smashed the ball and brought pandemonium to the PhilSports Arena on Saturday afternoon, the thousands in attendance were in unison: the tournament is something that will never go quietly into the night.
The chaos between powers that be, speculation and doubt from skeptics, and other extra-curriculars — those hardly mattered for the nationals.
They stopped caring a long time ago.
The only thing that mattered was earning respect and putting on a show in front of the home crowd after a decade-long hiatus from international tournaments.
And boy, did they deliver in an emphatic style which shall be remembered for the next days, months, and years.
Kazakhstan entered the match ranked no. 19 in the world, a perennial Asian championship contender and a team with experience in the world stage.
The opponent, the Philippines, is ranked a distant no. 63 according to FIVB as of October 2014.
It would have been an easy dismantling at first glance, but there is a reason why games aren’t played on paper.
The rankings hardly mean anything once two squads step on the floor, as it is in any other sporting event.
At around 4:00pm, Team Pilipinas did the unthinkable after shocking Kazakhstan in a 25-19, 25-11, 28-26 straight sets victory that surely rocked the venue and thousands more tuning in.
The game was won on a combination of many things. The nationals adjusted and limited their errors, improved their floor defense, and became relentless on offense.
Then came the intangibles — Laban. Effort. Determination. PUSO.
Whatever reason it is which helped the Philippines win, it surely gave fans the thrill.
By now, the team is already asleep, hours removed from the win that captivated us all and brought the country back on the map of international volleyball scene.
But the spirit of that lone powerful smash that made it 28-26 in the third set still echoes inside Jaja Santiago’s mind, the rest of the team, and their legions of supporters.
Whatever happens next hardly matters anymore; they are winners for standing up for flag and country, and fighting for pride and honor.
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