NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand – The Philippine national women’s volleyball team showcased clutch via a 5-setter match as they notch their first win against Sri Lanka at the Asian Volleyball Championships 19-25, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11.
With a slow start on the first frame, the PH team had to extend the match down to the wire as they banked on veteran Aiza Maizo’s experience to get the elusive victory.
Coach Ernesto Pamilar had nothing but good words for the MVP performance of his prized utility spiker.
“Walang dudang magaling!” said Pamilar. “Pinanindigan niya lahat ng sinabi niyang magta-trabahao siya sa likod (floor defense).”
The UST alumna led the team with 22 points from 16 attacks, 5 blocks and a service ace and was provided with good support from Tabaquero’s 19 points, Benito’s 11 and Tubino’s 10.
“Pag nasa harap yan, di mo kailangan mag timeout.” continues Pamilar. “Alam niya kung kalian kailangan um-iscore at gagawan niya ng paraan maipuntos lang niya.”
Sri Lanka’s Somarathna had 19 big points off 15 spikes, 2 blocks and 2 service aces followed by Madumali and Chamarika with 12 and 8, respectively.
A new volleyball era
Though it is just the team’s first win in 4 games, the Power Pinays, along with the Filipinos that came to the MCC Hall to witness the game, went wild as the girls ended the 5th and last set with 6 straight points.
Lefty Aiza Maizo, who contributed 3 of the last 6 points, including the game-winning shot, was humbled and happy about the game’s outcome.
“Siyempre sa dami ng nagda-doubt sa kakayahan nung team, masaya na naka-panalo kami.” she said. “Hindi madali lumaban kung pati kababayan mo dina-down ka. Pero laban sige lang ng sige!”
The win against Sri Lanka gives Pamilar and his wards an opening to battle for positioning to rank 9th-12th in the tournament.
This is already a big leap from their current 16th standing.
“Pag nanalo tayo sa Myanmar bukas, lalaban tayo for placing.” said Pamilar. “If we win that, we have a chance to place 9th as highest possible and 12th sa lowest.”
Pamilar believes this win will do wonders for the Power Pinays’ campaign at the AVC and future international leagues as well.
“If we rank higher than Indonesia and Myanmar, almost sure nang ipapadala din tayo sa SEA Games.” he said. “That is how crucial our ranking will be.”
Pilipinas volleyball on the rise
Though beating one of the lower seeded team may not seem like a big achievement to the critics, the win against ranked 13th Sri Lanka means everything to this new squad.
After missing out on sending a delegation to the biennial meet for eight years, the Philippines returned and received rave reviews from internationally renowned coaches.
After the praises given by China’s legendary coach Lang Ping, Sri Lanka’s Wannithilaka said the Philippine team’s strong showing surprised him.
“We don’t know how they play. We didn’t know what we’re up against,” he admitted. “They really caught us off-guard.”
His team, which played with 4 injured bench players, yielded the last 2 two sets of the game to the peaking Power Pinays.
“I think they won because of their powerful attacks,” said Wannithilaka.
“This team is strong and will get stronger in the coming years.”