The Philippines marches to warzone in quest of a victory that would give it the momentum for the tough grind ahead in the 29th Southeast Asian Games women’s volleyball competition, Thursday at the MITEC Hall 8 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The star-studded Nationals take on the Malaysians at 2:00 pm to open their campaign, before taking on heavyweight Vietnam and facing either Indonesia or Thailand in the sudden-death semifinals.
Bannered by Alyssa Valdez, hopes are high for the Nationals, as they trained for 17 days in three Japanese cities, and recently came up with an eighth-place finish in the 19th AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship in Biñan City.
Though they finished eighth, their campaign was highlighted by morale-boosting victories over Hong Kong and Vietnam, as well as good outings against Asian powerhouses like South Korea and Kazakhstan.
Head coach Francis Vicente said he had liked the performance of his wards in the Asian tourney, but the real yardstick is the SEA Games, where they are gunning for a podium finish – or at least a bronze medal – for the first time since the 23rd edition in Manila in 2005.
“I like the progress of the team,” said Vicente.
“The team had already developed. It is now fighting hard and pushing its opponents to the limit. I just hope we can carry that momentum into the SEA Games starting against Malaysia.”
The Malaysians could be an easy foe.
Composed mostly of university players, a hastily-formed Philippine side had dominated the Malaysians, 25-15, 25-18, 25-16, in the group stage of the previous SEA Games in Singapore.
Although their match could be a perfect warm-up for the tough battle against the Vietnamese on Saturday, Vicente stressed that they still can’t afford to put their guard down because the Malaysians could still spring some surprises.
“We still have to play with the same amount of toughness and intensity,” he said.
“We want to win convincingly to gain momentum and confidence against the likes of Vietnam and Indonesia or Thailand in the latter part of the tournament.”
Aside from Valdez, also tipped to carry the fight for the Nationals are Jaja Santiago, Aby Marano, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Mika Reyes, and playmaker Kim Fajardo.
AVC Seniors’ second Best Libero Dawn Macandili will also be on board to replace Denden Lazaro as main defender.
Story lifted from PSC-POC Media Group