By the numbers: Philippines vs Australia

This defeat will linger for a while.

After winning the first two sets, the Philippine women’s volleyball team let the game against Australia slip away. They had the opportunity to close them out in the third set. But in the contrary, the Volleyroos maintained their composure to snatch the set away. Once they had the momentum, they gained more confidence to win the last two sets.

By glancing at the stats, it’s like the first game of Team Philippines against Indonesia in the 2018 Asian Games all over again. Aprilia Manganang’s place was taken over by Rachel Rourke who single-handedly led the Aussies with 33 points. The next best scorer for coach Shannon Winzer was Agnieszka Kudziela with nine.

It’s easy to tell that stopping Rourke was all it took to win. But that’s easier said than done as our team lacked height especially on the net. Thus, the ace volleyball player of Australia had a field day with high sets and connected on six blocks as well. Here are the stats that add up to what happened:

First and second sets – coming from behind

It’s impressive that the Philippine team vanquished big leads to win the first two sets. In the first, they were down 21-18 until Mylene Paat happened. The former Adamson Lady Falcon led a 7-0 run to close out the opening set thanks to her well-placed spikes and timely blocks. Her efforts gave the Philippines a slight edge in attacks in the first set (15-14). As expected, Australia had an edge in blocks (4-2) but what ultimately killed them are their six errors as compared to the Philippines’ two. Aces are the Philippines’ favor as well, 2-1.

The same story was told in the second set. Australia had a five-point lead coming into the first technical timeout (8-3) but the Filipina volleybelles won by an identical score line. Surprisingly, the Aussies did not register a scoring block in the second. Credit that to the smarter ball distribution that kept their defenders chasing the ball. The Philippines also had the edge in attacks, 11-9, and errors, 10-12. Australia’s advantage in aces (2-0) and the Philippines’ edge in blocks (2-0) cancel each other out.

Third set –Volleyroos bounce back

The third set almost followed the narrative of the first and second. Australia raced to a 6-0 start but the Philippines responded with a 5-2 run to narrow the gap at 8-5 by the first technical timeout. Rourke’s forceful cross-court serve made it 16-12. The edge went up to 19-13 but the Philippines roared back with a 7-0 run courtesy of Jasmine Nabor’s setting, the defense of Melissa Gohing, and the serving prowess of Gretchel Soltones.

With the set tied at 20, Rourke led a mini-run to bring Australia to set point. However, Valdez and Paat connected on kills to even the count at 24. But Australia lived to fight one more set courtesy of a Rourke spike that was tipped by Soltones and a block of Alyssa Valdez’ back-row attack. Blocks have been the big story for the Volleyroos in set three as they connected on six of those as compared to none by the Philippines. However, the Philippines was able to catch up by being successful in more attacks (18-13).

Fourth and fifth sets – Australia completes the comeback

The ghost that is Rachel Rourke haunted the Philippines in the fourth set. The Australians did not hide their intentions in going to their main weapon. They just set the ball high and Rourke will unleash her explosive spikes. Even her spikes from bad sets were converted to scores. But aside from her exploits, the 13 errors that the Philippines committed is just too much. Having a disadvantage in blocks (AUS-2, PHI-0) and attacks (AUS-10, PHI-8) did not help the Filipinas either.

The Philippines could have saved the game in the last set as they led 8-6 halfway through. But the Australians blasted an 8-0 run courtesy of Rourke’s spikes, setter Kelly Lean’s aces, and Monique Stojanovic’s blocks to arrive at match point. Ortiz and Paat answered with consecutive kills to bring the count at 14-10. However, Paat’s next attempt went out of bounds to give Australia the set and the match.

While Australia did have two more errors than the Philippines (4-2), their domination in kill spikes (AUS – 9, PHI – 4) proved costly to the wards of coach Shaq Delos Santos. The Volleyroos also had the advantage in blocks (2-0) while service aces are even at two apiece.

Team statistics

Australia has a massive 15-7 advantage in scoring blocks. Aside from Rourke’s six, Stojanovic had three including two in the critical stages of the fifth set while Agnieszka Kudziela contributed two. Meanwhile, Paat led the Philippines in blocks with three. The Aussies also have the upper hand in service aces, 7-5, courtesy of Lean’s four. They also had a slim advantage in spikes, 54-53, but had more errors (AUS – 35, PHI – 32).

Valdez led the Philippines with 25 points while Paat had 17. However, a number of predictable back-row attacks caused The Phenom’s spike success rate to drop at 31.6% (24/76). Meanwhile, Paat’s rate is at 27% (13/48). Compare those to the 43.5% (27/62) of Rourke and you can see her dominance not just in scoring but in efficiency too. Even Australia’s team captain Beth Carey scored six points on 16 tries for a 37.5% conversion rate.

Cha Cruz – Behag tallied eight points while Aby Marano and Maika Ortiz got seven and five respectively. Soltones and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas combined for three to account for the Philippines’ 65 total attack points. On the other hand, Kudziela came up with nine points for Australia while Lean, Stojanovic, Rebecca Reeve, and former PSL import Carey all had six markers each. Jennifer Tait, Jaimee-Lee Morrow, and Elissa Blowes contributed five, four, and one point, respectively.