NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand, September 15, 2013 – The Philippine national women’s volleyball team had a measly output as they lost their 3rd straight game at the Asian Volleyball Championships against China, 25-9, 25-10, 25-8.
Pitted against a much taller and more experienced squad, the Power Pinays came into the match clearly as the underdogs with a tough task at hand; battle the defending champs of the biennial meet.
According to China’s head coach, Lang Ping, there are lessons that they could take from this match regardless of how easily they won it.
“I think today is different. They are pretty short,” she said. “There are some irregular balls. Drop balls. We don’t have that. We’re learning.”
Darlings of the crowd
The newly formed team from PH went into volleyball oblivion after going off the radar for the past three AVC tournaments.
Despite the loss, the Power Pinays seemed to have captured the attention of the fans not only from home, but from the host country as well.
Ranked 16th, the girls are considered the bottom dogs in each of their matches. And sometimes, that’s all you need to get the audience to cheer for you.
After a dismal first two sets, the Philippine team rallied at the 3rd through their good floor defense to close the gap 6-8, to the delight of the crowd.
“They’re happy when they are playing.” said China’s coach. “Their passing was really good. In time, they will improve.”
Showing grit and persistence, the girls made China work hard for every point as they dig and receive the attacks sent their way.
This resulted to rallies that elicited dozens of oohs and aahs from the people in attendance at the Chatchai Hall.
Head coach Nestor Pamilar explains the decision to use ace libero Lizlee Ann Gata-Pantone did wonders for the team.
“Kahapon ko pa plano gamitin si Tatan (Gata) against Iran. Kaso hindi pinayagan maglaro dahil walang picture yung official ID niya.” said Pamilar.
“Kasi ang habol ko, yung mabilis ang galaw. And she proved na siya yun.”
Pamilar compliments the girls’ efforts in saving the ball regardless of their clear disadvantage in exposure and cohesion.
“Nakita naman natin, pag pinapaluan sila, naitataas nila.” he said. “Maliban sa malakas yung kabila, kulang lang talaga sa kumpyansa ang mga bata.”
“We’ll get there. With hard work, we will.”
The captain is missing
The PLDT Fibr-sponsored team missed the services of team captain Angge Tabaquero due to the injury limitations of her sprained ankle.
Team Physician Raul Alcantara advised Tabaquero to rest the injury and just prepare for the matches that they have bigger chances of winning.
“Gusto maglaro eh. Siyempre China. Gusto niya ma-experience.” said Alcantara. “But we didn’t want to risk it. We don’t want it to get worse.”
Pamilar describes Angge as a real fighter.
“She feels bad na di siya makalaro. Gusto tumulong sa team eh.” he said. “Sabi ko na lang, mas makakatulong siya, pag gumaling siya agad.”
A positive outlook towards the team’s future
Regardless of the low output on their last game, coach Nes Pamilar still thinks his wards would go far.
For him, this is one of the strongest national volleyball teams we have come up with in recent years.
“Si (Rosemarie) Vargas injured. Si Angge injured. Pero binibigyan pa din natin sila ng magandang laban.” he continues. “Mabuo lang natin yang first six na yan, mabigyan ng magandang exposure, malayo mararating niyan!”
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas top-scored for PH with 10 points from 9 attacks and 1 service ace followed by Honey Royse Tubino with 4, all from spikes.
China’s Zhu Ting had a field day with 12 attacks, 4 blocks and 3 service aces amassing 19 points while Hui Ruoqi and Zeng Chunlel provided good back up with 12 and 10, respectively.
“We will be working harder para mapataas pa ang ranking natin.” adds Pamilar.
“Kung nakaka-intindi ka ng volleyball, alam mong may ibubuga itong mga batang ito.”