SINGAPORE – The Philippines’ Womens Volleyball Team executed a perfect game on Thursday as it tallied its first win in the tournament when it defeated Malaysia in the 28th South East Asian Games in Singapore.
The much-awaited victory affirmed the comeback of the Philippines in the South East Asian volleyball scene after ten years of absence in the international meet. The Philippines last fielded a volleyball team in the tournament in 2005 when the country hosted the event.
The country’s comeback was much sweeter when the Philippines edged over Malaysia in straight sets, 25-15, 25-18, 25-16.
National team skipper Jovelyn Gonzaga showed the way for her team with an outstanding performance both on offense and defense. Levelling the performance of defensive ace Denden Lazaro, Gonzaga also had a game-high eight excellent receptions.
But aside from the light and happy aura of Team Philippines all throughout the game, it was the brilliant distribution of the ball by the young setter Jia Morado that spelled the difference.
Though sharing the playmaking duties with veteran and multi-awarded setter Rhea Dimaculangan, Morado still had an impressive 21 excellent sets.
Her equal and strategic distribution of the ball proved to be effective as her teammates launched their thunderous attacks from all areas of the court.
Alyssa Valdez top-scored for the team with 13 points, while Dindin Santiago-Manabat chipped in eight points.
The Santiago connection between Dindin and Jaja als worked well for the team as the towering sisters manned the net well with their timely blocks and well-placed middle attacks.
The win against Malaysia opened the door widely for a possible podium finish for the Philippines. However, the relentless volleybelles must first win against Vietnam in three to four sets in their game on Saturday, 10am to advance further into the competition.