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2024 AVC Challenge Cup for Women

De Brito explains why Canino, Nisperos will play opposite for Alas

The biggest question mark for Alas Pilipinas has been answered as the team heads into its debut in the 2024 AVC Challenge Cup for Women.

In the 14-player lineup of the newly-formed Philippine women’s national team, there is no natural opposite hitter except for 19-year-old Arah Panique, who will embark on her first stint representing the country.

Outgoing Philippines head coach Jorge Souza De Brito confirmed on Wednesday evening that Angel Canino and Faith Nisperos would also play the opposite position for the team in this tournament.

“We don’t have opposites in the squad, so we had to try all the girls that we have. Arah (Panique) is the only one who’s really an opposite spiker, but there are other girls who have the background and have played (opposite) before,” said De Brito, an Olympic gold medalist for Brazil as a player.

“Faith Nisperos played in Ateneo as an opposite. Also, Angel Canino played a long time ago as an opposite,” he continued.

“We’re trying to adjust. That’s what we need to do here in the Philippines. Since the players are already there and we have good players, we’ll go and try to fix this.”

Alas will be tested right from the start as they face a taller Australian squad tonight at 7:00 PM at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

The Volleyroos imposed their might at the net in their opening game on Wednesday against Chinese Taipei, the youngest team in the tournament, accumulating 18 blocks against their foes’ one.

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However, Australia needed to overcome a slow start after giving up the first set. They eventually took the next three convincingly, 23-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-18.

Despite the Australians dropping a set, De Brito knows they will be much better against the Philippines.

“I think the first day is always hard. If you’re gonna measure them (Australia) on how they played, I’m sure that they’ll play much better tomorrow because the first day is always hard,” said the Brazilian coach.

“They made a lot of mistakes, they lost the first set, even giving a lot of chances (to Chinese Taipei). Tomorrow will be a different game for sure.”

AVC-Challengers-Cup-AUS-vs-TPE-TIPPING-Caitlin De Brito explains why Canino, Nisperos will play opposite for Alas 2024 AVC Challenge Cup for Women Alas Pilipinas News Volleyball  - philippine sports news

In their last match-up back in 2022 during the AVC Cup, the Philippines, represented by Premier Volleyball League perennial champions Creamline, downed Australia in five sets, 21-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-15, 15-12, with the support of a rocking crowd inside the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

That defeat has not left the mind of Volleyroos head coach Russell Borgeaud, who remains cautious of Alas despite their big opening day victory over the Taiwanese team.

“All we can do is our best on a given day. We’ll give our best, and if it’s good enough to win, we’ll take that, but we don’t know the Philippines,” said Borgeaud.

“The last time we played them two years ago here they were very strong, and we lost in five sets. It’s going to be a very tough match and a very good match,” added the coach, who has guided Australia to the Olympics multiple times.

He still remembers how wild and loud the Philippine crowd was back in 2022, and that gives him joy despite the fans cheering for their opponent.

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“The Philippines is always excellent. We love coming here, the people are so friendly, and I remember the crowd last time in 2022 was just fantastic even though they cheered for the other team. The crowd is amazing, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow night too,” he said after the win against Chinese Taipei.

With an average height of 5-foot-10, Borgeaud hopes that his team can take advantage of that once again as they face the Philippines, who are not far behind with an average height of 5-foot-8.

His emphasis was not only on blocking, as he wants his players to hit above the blockers for easier scoring.

“We need to be good in our blocking; that’s an important skill for us. But also, in attacks, we need to use our height, of course, hit hard but also high so it’s more difficult for the blockers. We need to use that advantage.”

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Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.

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