Seagulls give NT neat lesson

OKAYAMA CITY, Japan — The Okayama Seagulls edged the Philippine national women’s volleyball team 7anew in their second friendly match Thursday in this lovely Japanese city.

But the final scores hardly mattered.

National team head coach Francis Vicente said they continue to learn a lot of lessons from the elite Japanese club, including floor defense, blocking and those little things that would make an impact down the stretch.

Vicente said his wards are now realizing the importance of being disciplined defensively and how it would affect the outcome of the match.

Led by London Olympics bronze medalist Mai Yamaguchi, the Seagulls are perfect preachers of discipline.

Their attacks are crisp and their executions are fluid to the point of identifying even those razor-thin gaps on the defensive pattern of their foes.

But what was so impressive was their blocking.

The Seagulls may not be tall and long, but they can erect a rock-solid defense at the net through great positioning, timing, and accuracy.

Seagulls head coach Akiyoshi Kawamoto reached out to the Nationals and revealed the trade secrets to great blocking.

He paid special attention to skipper Mika Reyes, Gen Casugod, Aby Marano and Kim Dy, saying that if they will acquire the Japanese way of blocking, the Philippines will be a force to be reckoned with in the international arena.

[quote]“Good positioning and timing are the keys to a successful block.”[/quote]

[quote]“Since you are already tall, you have to learn how to use your height to your advantage. I believe you can. All you have to do is to train hard.”[/quote]

Head coach Francis Vicente said the lessons taught by Kawamoto at the defensive end are very crucial to their campaign in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games this August.

[quote]“It was an eye-opener for us.”[/quote]

[quote]“We realized that we still have a lot to learn and improve on. The girls are acting like a sponge. They are absorbing every new information coming their way and are eager to apply it in game-time scenarios.”[/quote]

The Nationals lost to the Seagulls, 16-25, 18-25, 20-25. Then, Kawamoto asked for an extra set where the Seagulls prevailed, 25-18.

Vicente smiled after the match.

[quote]“I like the way we played. We performed way better than the first time we played against them.”[/quote]

Again, the result is no longer important.

For the Nationals, every single game is an opportunity to learn and sharpen their knives for the war ahead.