Foton Pilipinas got a healthy helping of top-caliber international competition, falling to Japanese club NEC Red Rockets in straight sets 13-25, 7-25, in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship second group phase at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
Foton head coach Fab Menta painted the Red Rockets as “nearly-unbeatable” and the his team nearly put up a fight in the opening set. Pilipinas traded points until the first technical timeout. NEC held a slim 14-11 lead which suddenly swelled with Foton only winning two points for the rest of the set.
Pilipinas tried adjustments in the second frame, switching out setter Rhea Dimaculangan and open hitter Cherry Rondina for Ivy Perez and Ej Laure, respectively. But the hosts succumbed early and devastatingly, only getting their first attack point at 3-19.
The Red Rockets then took their turn, subbing in their bench players in the third frame and resulting in a closer affair. Foton held momentary two-point leads before the first technical timeout but the Japanese took a 9-8 lead and never looked back. Pilipinas surrendered a 12-20 hole and suffered their second straight loss of the tournament.
American import Ariel Usher tallied seven points while Aby Maraño and Cherry Rondina each had four points.
NEC team captain Akari Oumi led all scorers with 13 points, Sarina Koga and Mizuki Yanigata had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“We went to school today. NEC is a top 10 or 15 club in the world. Obviously, we aren’t there yet,” said Menta.
Foton, currently in Group E, is competing for seeding in the knockout, crossover quarterfinals when they take on one of Group F’s squads which Bayi Army of China, Bangkok Glass of Thailand, Iran or Chinese Taipei.
At 0-2, Foton will need to win their last Group tilt tomorrow against Kazakstan’s Altay VC (1-1) to possibly avoid the bottom seed in Group E and the top team in Group F come the quarterfinal.
NEC (3) – Oumi 13, Koga 11, Yanigata 10, Sagawa 9, Hiroshe 5, Ono 5, Oyama 2, Yataka 2, Yamaguchi 1, Sho 0, Ueno 0, Torigoe (L)
Foton (0) – Usher 7, Maraño 4, Rondina 4, Dimaculangan 2, Gonzaga 2, Santiago 2, Laure 1, Perez 0, General (L), Reyes (L)