The Philippine Women’s National Volleyball team encountered the full-bore arsenal of Vietnam, which spoiled its 30th Southeast Asian Games campaign opener on Tuesday night.
The Filipinas put up a gallant stand in front of their home crowd inside the PhilSports Arena, but the Vietnamese proved too much down the stretch. They faltered in five sets, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 8-15.
Reeling from a stinging third-set loss, the tricolor squad bounced back ferociously in the fourth frame, unloading an offensive barrage and mounting an 11-6 cushion. Vietnam then whittled away the deficit and forged a lock at 13.
Still, the Filipinas remained unfazed.
The Philippines relied on its hard-nosed defensive schemes to force the Vietnamese to commit a string of errors, building a 23-19 lead and pushing the match to a decider.
The final set turned into a defensive battle, with momentum swinging in a wild manner at the onset.
Vietnam built a wall early on that stymied the hitters of the host country for a 6-3 edge. The Philippines then responded with a series of blocks to knot the count at 6.
From there, though, the Vietnamese tipped the scales to their favor. They found the spark in Thi Xuan Nguyen and Bui Thi Nga, who delivered the momentum-swinging hits that incited a searing 7-1 outburst and buoyed the visitors at 13-7.
Valdez tried to pump life to the Philippines’ comeback bid, but Thi Hue Lue’s thunderous kill quickly restored order.
In the ensuing sequence, Valdez coughed up a second ball error that sealed the Philippines’ fate.
“Well, I think meron kaming magandang performance, but siyempre na-short. Hindi maganda ‘yung result pero lesson learned para sa amin. Siyempre kailangan namin paghandaan ‘yung mga next game namin,” said Philippine head coach Shaq Delos Santos.
Valdez poured in a double-double of 22 points built on 20 attacks and a pair of aces, and 13 excellent receptions in a losing cause.
Ces Molina and Jovelyn Gonzaga churned out 12 markers each. The latter also collected 11 excellent digs for another double-double outing that went down the drain.
Majoy Baron chimed in 10 points anchored on three blocks, while her fellow middle blocker Maddie Madayag netted three blocks as well for five markers.
On the other hand, the eye of Vietnam’s offensive storm was Tran Thi Thanh Thuy. The Vietnamese skipper let loose a game-high 27 points with all but a point coming from attacks, while notching 13 excellent digs and 13 excellent receptions.
Thi Xuan Nguyen and Bui Thi Nga had 15 and 14 markers, respectively. Thi Kieu Trinh Hoang added 10.
On Thursday at the same venue, the Philippines will look to crack into the winner’s circle against the long-reigning queen Thailand, who sent Indonesia to submission with a straight-set 25-13, 25-15, 25-9 beatdown earlier in the day.
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