Philippines vs. Hong Kong Game Ball: History in the making

Philippines vs Hong Kong, Asian Games, 2018

December 3, 1982 marked the last time a Philippine women’s volleyball team won a match in the Asian Games. On the last day of competitions, they defeated host nation India in straight sets 15-9, 15-9, and 15-2. Side-out scoring was still implemented back then.

That time, none of the current players were born yet while the coaches might still be in their teens. But after 36 years, our country has broken into the win column after defeating Hong Kong in straight sets, 25-18, 25-21, and 25-22. After two losses to powerhouse teams Thailand and Japan, we finally have a reason to celebrate.

Indeed, this historical moment will be passed on by the players to their future children and grandparents. But for everyone who witnessed this victory hopes that it’s the seed of an improving volleyball program.

Let’s give credit to Hong Kong as well despite their loss. They were not an easy out and they put up an even greater challenge as the game progressed. But after two humiliating setbacks, the Filipino spikers will not be denied. Aside from etching their names in the history of Philippine volleyball, the win clinched them a quarterfinals berth barring any spell that Hong Kong can cast to limit the Thailand and Japan’s offense in their succeeding matches.

Here are our other take-aways from the Philippines-Hong Kong match:

Total team effort

Almost everyone connected on spikes. Alyssa Valdez led the way with ten while Jaja Santiago connected on eight. Mylene Paat contributed five while Mika Reyes, Aby Maraño, Dindin Santiago-Manabat, and Kim Kianna Dy had four apiece. Even Kim Fajardo and Jia Morado combined on four successful spikes while Majoy Baron hit two. That 45 total spikes are the highest that the Philippine team has collected in three matches and what’s more impressive is that it came from a variety of players.

In comparison, Hong Kong only had 37 successful spikes in 108 attempts. Service is also to the Philippines’ favor thanks to the 11 aces in 75 tries. Four of the 11 aces are courtesy of Valdez while Santiago, Dy, Reyes, and Santiago had two apiece while Morado chalked up one. Meanwhile, Hong Kong only had three aces the entire game and plenty of trouble receiving the balls from our players. This contributed largely to the 20 errors that Hong Kong committed as compared to only 12 for the Philippines.

Better on defense

The Philippine team had zero defensive digs against Japan. This time, they had six. The team also had seven successful blocks and that many excellent receptions as well. The entire squad stepped up in this game in limiting Hong Kong’s points plus the net minders did a great job in reading the opponent’s attack.

But in some ways, did they improve because they are playing a weaker team? A team that was created only months in advance will not stand a chance against the powers of Asian volleyball, as proven by the two previous games. This leads me to my next realization.

Hong Kong is one tough cookie

The opposing team gave us a scare in sets two and three. Normally, you would think that a team might be demoralized after losing the first set. It’s obvious that they were not. The Hong Kong squad was able to match our national team point for point, only to falter in the end. Perhaps we can credit that to their long-term development plan for volleyball that works year-round. The good fight indicates that they are on the right track in terms of improvement.

Up next for the Philippines and Hong Kong

Done is the easiest match in the pool stage for the Philippines but up next is host nation Indonesia. Once again, Team Philippines will have to deal with the powerful Aprilia Manganang who dominated Hong Kong with 28 points. Her powerful spikes will be a tough challenge for our defense. Team Indonesia will also feed off from the energy given by a largely partisan crowd.

Aside from her, coach Shaq Delos Santos must draw up plans to neutralize Amalia Fajrina Nabila and Wilda Siti Nurfadhilah Sugandi too. Expect a grueling but exciting clash of teams that are looking for their second victory. On the other hand, Hong Kong’s campaign will only get tougher as they face Thailand on the 25th of August and Japan on the 27th.

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