DESPITE the adversities that came in the run-up before the AVC Cup for Women, the Philippines still ended up in sixth-place following a 26-28, 21-25, 21-25 loss to Chinese-Taipei yesterday before an appreciative crowd at the Philsports Arena.
The finish was the country’s best-ever in a continental competition since a fifth-place in the 3rd Asian Championship in Fukuoka, Japan in 1983.
Bannered by reigning Premier Volleyball League champion Creamline, the national women’s team tallied three wins in the Philippines’ only second participation in the AVC Cup for Women which exceeded expectations.
“Actually, yung three wins is a blessing,” said coach Sherwin Meneses. “Three wins is history. Thank you kami sa mga players lalo (sa sacrifice) kasi everyday yung game. Hopefully, mahabang preparation kapag nagkaroon kami ng mahabang preparation sa international level.”
Prior to the tournament, open spiker Alyssa Valdez (dengue) and middle blocker Risa Sato (health and safety protocols) were ruled out, while setter Jia de Guzman missed the opening match against Vietnam due to health and safety protocols.
The Philippines was able to overcame those rough patches, winning two pool matches against Iran and South Korea, and edging Australia in last Sunday’s first classification game, easily surpassing the country’s ninth place run in the 2018 edition in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
“Siguro, kung nakumpleto kami, mas maganda yung ilalaro namin kasi galing kami sa PVL, champion. Thank you kami sa mga nag-step up sa tournament na ito. Ibinigay talaga nila yung best nila,” said Meneses.
“Talaga yung team familiarity and chemistry, mahalaga dito sa tournament na ito. Thank you sa mga players talaga na never sumuko dito sa tournament,” he added.
Ced Domingo, carrying the impressive form that gave her the PVL Invitational Conference Finals MVP award, led the hosts with 12 points, while Michele Gumabao had two blocks for a nine-point outing.
Jema Galanza had eight kills, while Jeanette Panaga also had eight points, including three blocks.
The Taiwanese defense checked Tots Carlos, who tallied seven points, scoreless in the third set.
Chinese-Taipei skipper Chang Li-Wen, who scored nine of the match-best 18 points in the third set, praised the Philippines for giving her team stiff challenge before capturing fifth place.
“The Philippines is a good team, they have good speed so we used strong service. Sometimes it is fast, sometimes its short ball. They are focused on reception,” said Chang.
“They always give the ball to the outside spikers and we are ready. We practiced about their outside spikers,” the Taiwanese opposite hitter added.
The women’s national team showed no signs of fatigue after last Sunday’s thrilling 21-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-18, 15-12 victory over the Volleyroos, giving their East Asian foes fits in the extended first set before losing.
Chinese-Taipei took control of the next two with the lefty Chang taking charge.
Earlier, Iran captured seventh place following a 25-19, 25-18, 25-22 win over Australia.
Aytak Salamatgharamaleki took the scoring mantle for the Iranians with 15 points, while Mahsa Saberi had three service aces to finish with 12 points.
Italian coach Alessandra Kampedelli, who is handling Iran for five months, was satisfied with the performance of the players after recording two wins in the tournament.
“I think for us, it was a very very very great experience for us,” said Kampedelli. “Now we have to work more.”
Stef Weiler and Kara Inskip each score 10 points apiece while Annelies Jones and Caitlin Tipping had eight points apiece for the Volleyroos, who placed eighth in the continental meet.
Coming off a tough five-set loss to the Philippines Sunday, Australia was struggling in the one-hour, 33-minute match.
“Mad respect for the Philippines on the way they played their defense and their power hitting was super impressive. We couldn’t hang on,” said Volleyroos captain Kelly Lean.
“We were bit disappointed with today. We probably played a little bit better than that. We played a big game yesterday and we played a tough opponent in Iran, they really played very well so it’s hard to match after a tough loss,” she said