Can Nationals topple Kazakhs?

Friday, 11 Aug 2017
Julius Manicad - @JCManicad
Photo courtesy of Noel Monzales, Volleyball PH

The joy of winning over Hong Kong would be short-lived as the national women’s team faces a giant foe in Kazakhstan in its second match in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship Friday at the Alonte Sports Arena</A>.

The Kazakhs are tipped to serve as the first real test for the Filipinas.

Armed with height, length and international experience, the Kazakhs would surely serve as the biggest thorn in the Nationals’ road to glory.

A victory over the spikers from Central Asia would not only formally assure the Nationals a slot in the quarterfinals; it would also serve as a morale-booster as they enter the second round against the qualifiers in Pool C with an immaculate record.

But it won’t be a walk in the park.

The Kazakhs are fresh from a morale-boosting straight set win over Hong Kong and their size could overwhelm the home team.

Also, Kazakhstan head coach Vyacheslav Shapran did his homework and is expected to come in prepared, armed with notes and other tidbits on how to neutralize Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago and other Filipino attackers.

Possible

But for the national squad, pulling the rug from under the Kazakhs is very possible.

A team insider who spoke on condition of anonymity due to lack of authority from head coach Francis Vicente said the coaching staff spent its entire day scouting and studying Kazakhstan.

Vicente, a well-known student of the game, presided a serious huddle with assistant coaches Brian Esquibel, Nene Chavez and Ronald Chavez to crunch numbers and assess Kazakhstan’s performance against Hong Kong.

The source said Vicente’s effort paid off.

“The Kazakhs may be tall, but their middle blockers are quite slow. That’s the chink in their armor, something which we should take advantage.”

The insider, however, refused to reveal further details but assured that Vicente and his staff had prepared “something special” against the Kazakhs.

He added that Kazakhstan is beatable but they have to come up with good reception and much-improved blocking.

“While we’re satisfied with how we performed against Hong Kong, we feel that the team still has something more to show.”

“We have to double our effort and work hard on defense. Our reception should be on point and our middles should assert themselves and break the attacks of the taller Kazakhs.”

“We can’t rely on one or two players alone. Winning over an elite team like Kazakhstan should be a team effort.”