Know thy 2018 Asian Games Group A opponent: Hong Kong

With the women’s volleyball competition for the 2018 Asian Games just days away, let’s have a closer look at the squads that are grouped with the Philippine team in Group A. First off, Hong Kong.

Philippines dominate 2017 AVC Senior Women’s encounter

With a balanced scoring attack and the rewards of home court advantage, the Philippine women’s volleyball team dismissed Hong Kong in straight sets during their 2017 Asian Volleyball Confederation Senior Women’s Championship match at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan City, Laguna. The first set ended at 25-21 while the second and third sets tallied 25-16 and 25-17, respectively.

Alyssa Valdez and Jaja Santiago, both part of the 2018 Asian Games roster for the Philippines, combined for 27 points, 24 of which coming from spikes. But it was hardly a two-pony show as Ces Molina and Kim Fajardo logged seven points apiece. The former De La Salle University setter was able to distribute the ball well to varying hitters with 26 excellent sets to keep the Hong Kong defense guessing.

Who to watch out for from Team Hong Kong

Despite that impressive performance from Team Philippines, the Hong Kong women’s volleyball team for the Asian Games cannot be overlooked. Therefore, they must perform the same balanced attack to keep the Hong Kong players on their toes. On defense, our players must keep an eye on their favorite play which is a quick set to the middle hitter. They also run a number of combination plays but not as frequent as the Thais do.

Front row defenders should mark Chim Wing Lam who is often the recipient of setter Lam Yee Ting’s quick strike. Meanwhile, To Wing Man can also do damage with her powerful kill attempts at opposite hitter. Cheung Man Lee and Ip Hoi Lun can rack up the points as well when left unnoticed. Team captain Tsang Sze Nga is their most potent server due to her sharp jump serve.

A model of preparation

A document from the Volleyball Association of Hong Kong, China’s website reveals that preparations for the 2018 Asian Games commenced as early as January of this year. They divide their development plan into four periods that coincide with the four quarters of a calendar year. The VBAHK identifies the third quarter as the Tournament Period given that the 2018 Asian Eastern Zone Women’s Volleyball Championship as well as the Asian Games fall within these months.

But before competing, they delegate January to March as the Preparation Period wherein players must work on their physical fitness and volleyball-related skills. They train four times a week in hopes of improving their serving accuracy, attack intensity, and defensive coverages. The Hong Kong national team then engage in more team practices and tune-up tournaments during the Consolidation Period from April to June.

Practices are still four times a week in order to build team cohesion especially on offense. It also keeps their players in shape for the tougher games ahead. Finally, they delegate the fourth quarter of the year as the Conditioing Period wherein they assess team performance during the previous tournaments in order to reveal their strengths and weaknesses. Practices have also been reduced to three times a week just to keep the players sharp and in shape for the 1st Asian Challenge Cup for Women in December 2018 at their home floor.

Prediction for PHI-HKG showdown

In the same document mentioned above, the Hong Kong women’s volleyball team is targeting a Top 6 finish in the 2018 Asian Games. Placing fifth or higher in Indonesia is an improvement from their previous Asian Games-best sixth place during 1978 edition in Thailand. Hong Kong also finished seventh during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

But in terms of the Philippines-Hong Kong match-up, their back row will have a hard time fielding the powerful attacks of our spikers. Given that the game will be played on neutral ground, I foresee our Philippine women’s volleyball team winning the encounter in four sets.

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