After two heartbreaking, five-set losses, the Philippine women’s volleyball team can finally smile as they registered a victory against Kazakhstan. The game nearly followed the narrative of their game versus Australia. Team Philippines won the first two sets but lost the third, 25-20. But for this match, the squad exorcised the ghosts of those defeats and dominated the Kazakhs in the fourth, 25-17.
While the Kazakhs only managed to win one set, they could have won the match if the breaks of the game went their way, as shown by the fact that the Philippines won the first two sets by a total of five points. The young Kazakh team fought hard and utilized their height advantage to convert spikes off high and quick sets. However, their nerves got shaky when the Philippines was gaining momentum and committed critical errors that lost them the game.
The Philippines won the block battle, 13-10, even though they were giving up a few inches to their opponents. Mylene Paat continues her sensational performance with four blocks while Jia Morado and Aby Marano had two apiece. Because the Kazakhs did not have much variety on their plays, the Filipinos were able to read their tendencies in order to adjust the defense accordingly. The Filipina spikers had a 5-2 cushion in blocks during the second set which is vital given the two-point winning margin.
In the third set, the squad of coach Boris Iakimushkin retaliated by unleashing aggression in their attacks and serves. The result is an 11-9 advantage in attack points and a 3-1 edge in aces. They were threatening to bring the game to a fifth set with the game tied at 14 in the fourth. But such was not the case for the Philippine reserves held the fort. Risa Sato thwarted a number of Kazakhstan’s attacks while Gretchel Soltones made four crucial points in the end game by seeking the hole of their defense.
Better ball distribution
The Philippine offense is more fluid in this game. More people were involved in the attacks and Alyssa Valdez still scored a bunch despite lesser attempts.
In the first two games, Valdez had an average of 102 total scoring attempts per match. But in the Kazakhstan game, she only had 70 and managed to score 16. Thirteen of her markers were achieved within 44 attempts only. Likewise, Paat tried to spike 30 times and scored on ten. Even Cha Cruz – Behag had 32 attempts, converting on eight. The team had 45 total spikes, 31 of which were divided among these three players.
While the number of misses is still astronomical, the opportunities to score were more even. This kept the Kazakhs confused on who will take the ball and that discomfort made it harder for them to establish their defense. The variety of attack enabled Paat to also collect 16 points while Aby Marano had ten. Cruz-Behag is one point shy of being in double-figures as well while Mika Reyes joined the fray with five. Sato, Jasmine Nabor, Maika Ortiz, and Aiza Maizo – Pontillas had one point apiece.
What’s next for Team Philippines?
The Philippine women’s volleyball team will now face South Korea in the 5th-10th classification play-off. Win this game and they will have the opportunity to finish as high as fifth. Lose it and they can end up at the bottom of the competition. The good news is that the Koreans opted to field their youngsters because Kim Yeon-koung and the senior women’s national team is now gearing up for the FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan. While quality of opposition is lesser, the South Koreans remain to be formidable team led by Ha Hyejin, Go Yerim, and Park Hyemin.