Getting ninth: Philippines vs. Kazakhstan recap

Monday, 24 Sep 2018
Lawrence Fernandez - Editor - @lancefernandez

A win is a win, regardless of its implication. Thus, the Philippine women’s volleyball team capped their AVC Cup for Women 2018 campaign on a good note by defeating Kazakhstan again in five sets: 25-13, 23-25, 25-22, 17-25, 15-8. The victory puts our national team in ninth place while the Kazakhs finished last.

The Philippines won the opening set in convincing fashion, 25-13, thanks to the 11 errors committed by the young Kazakh players. Our national team also had an edge in aces (2-0), blocks (3-0), and attack points (9-7). However, the tone of the game changed in the second set as Kazakhstan benefited from having three blocks as compared to none by the Philippines. That edge is beneficial to their 25-23 win especially when you consider that the Philippine volleyball team had more attack points (16-13). The Kazakhs also had one less error (7-8) and one more ace (1-0) in the set.

The Filipina volleybelles bounced back in the third courtesy of having more aces (4-2) and blocks (4-3) than their opponents. Those advantages gave the Philippines the set, 25-22, especially because attack points and errors are even at ten and seven apiece, respectively.

Narrowly losing the third, Kazakhstan roared back in the fourth by unleashing a more ferocious attack to force a fifth set, 25-17. Aside from having less errors (KAZ-2; PHI-5), they had an edge in service aces (3-1), attack points (13-11), and blocks (4-3). Zarina Sitkazinova was splendid in the set despite not playing in the first game against the Philippines. She took some of the load that is usually produced by their top scorer Anastassiya Rostovchshikova who did not suit up for this game.

However, Cha Cruz – Behag came up big in the fifth set with five of the team’s eight attack points including four consecutive hits that brought the score from 9-7 to 13-7. The other attacks points garnered by the Philippines were courtesy of Mika Reyes, Mylene Paat, and Alyssa Valdez. Likewise, the Kazakh players committed six errors which are huge in a race-to-15 fifth while Team Philippines only had three. Paat connected on the only service ace in the final set.

Team statistics – Philippines vs. Kazakhstan – Asian Women’s Volleyball Cup 2018

Paat led the Philippines in scoring with 18 (12 spikes, two blocks, four aces) while Valdez tallied 17 (15 spikes, one ace, one block). Cruz – Behag came in at third with 16 markers (14 spikes, one block, one ace). Team captain Aby Marano and Risa Sato each had five while Reyes contributed four. Maika Ortiz and Jia Morado had three and two respectively while Jasmine Nabor and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas got a point each.

On the other hand, four Kazakhstan players scored in double-digits: Dinara Syzdykova (16), Diana Grokhotova (16), Ainagul Aizharikhova (11), and Sitkazinova (11). Aidana Orntayeva posted eight while Botagoz Sarsenbayeva had a pair of points. Though their scoring is well-distributed, they lost the errors battle, 33-29. Meanwhile, both teams were tied in scoring blocks with ten apiece while the Philippines enjoyed a slight advantage in service aces, 8-6, and scoring spikes, 54-48.

Aside from edging Kazakhstan in spikes, the top scorers from the Philippine women’s volleyball team had an advantage in efficiency. Valdez had 15 points off only 36 spike attempts for an impressive 41.66% success rate. Meanwhile, Cruz-Behag’s conversion rate is at 31.8% (14/44) while Paat is at 32.4% (12/37). In contrast, Syzdykova and Sitkazinova had their spike success rates at only 28% (12/43) and 29.7% (11/37), respectively.

The bottom line – Philippines vs. Kazakhstan – 6th AVC Cup for Women

Combine inexperience with a slow playing pace and you have a recipe for disaster in volleyball. That’s what transpired for Kazakhstan especially in the fifth set. Their nerves got the better of them and thus gave six points off errors. Likewise, the Philippine players was able to adjust their defensive formation accordingly because the Kazakhs are executing their offense at a predictable speed and variation. This explains the low success rate in spikes and the disadvantage in blocks.

Meanwhile, the Philippines took advantage of the Kazakhs’ lack of speed by distributing the ball better to score more efficiently. Even though Cruz-Behag already scored a string of points in the fifth, she was able to get more because their defenders react late. Therefore, they had more success bringing the ball to the gaps or off the blocker’s hands.

What’s next for Team Philippines?

The Philippine women’s volleyball team, especially those who have been part of the squad since the 2018 Asian Games, will finally get a lengthy break before gearing up for either the PVL Open Conference 2018 or the PSL All-Filipino Conference 2018 that will start next month. As for volleyball general, we can only hope that this is the start of a better program that will see our country ascend in terms of competitiveness.