BINAN, LAGUNA — FIVB World ranked no. 79 Philippines upsets no. 44 Vietnam in the Seniors’ Asian Volleyball Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena on Monday.
After a slow start in the game, the national team rode on the country’s battlecry across all sports in international competitions — PUSO, en route to a four set victory, 27-25, 26-24, 17-25, 25-23.
Led by the ferocity displayed by Aby Maraño midway during the first set, the Pinays finally got their rhythm in check. With national team Coach Francis Vicente burning his two timeouts while the set was still at 14-22, the girls were left on their own to mount a comeback and avoid a downward spiral. Maika Ortiz teamed up with Maraño at the middle to string together game-changing blocks and running attacks against Vietnam.
On the twilight of the set, Alyssa Valdez switched to Phenom mode to score a service ace and snatch the first frame from the Vietnamese.
As if history was on automatic repeat, Valdez once again came up with the heroics towards the latter part of the second set as she registered two sharp service aces to bag the second set through a come-from-behind effort against their opponents.
And for the story to come in full circle, the multiple-times MVP teamed up with her high school teammate setter Kim Fajardo to execute a perfect combination play and finally seal the deal for the Philippines.
Valdez top-scored the entire game with 20 points in 16 attacks, three service aces, and one block. She also tallied six excellent digs. By her side is the towering and dominant figure of Jaja Santiago who finished with 19 points, including three blocks and two service aces.
The dynamic duo of Maraño and Ortiz at the middle combined for 19 points, with three emphatic blocks apiece. Defensive ace Dawn Macandili also played an inspired performance with 19 excellent digs and 12 excellent receptions.
On the other end, Vietnamese superstar Thuy Tran Thi Thanh scored 16 points, while Hoa Nguyen Thi Ngoc had 15 markers. However, the resiliency and passion of the host team was just too much even for high ranked world-class volleyball team.
The Philippines is now scheduled to face Thailand on Tuesday, 5:30pm at the Alonte Sports Arena as the tournament’s quarterfinals take off.