NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand -- Breakthrough.
The Philippine national women's volleyball team flashed nerves of steel in outlasting Sri Lanka in a gripping 5-setter for their first win in the 2013 Asian Volleyball Championships on Monday, September 16 at the MCC Hall here.
Coming back from the edge of defeat, the Power Pinays turned Sri Lanka back, 19-25, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23, 15-11, to keep their hopes of a 9th-place finish alive.
Veteran Aiza Maizo led the PH spikers' fightback, as the former University of Santo Tomas star sizzled with 22 points off 16 hits, 5 blocks and an ace.
"Walang dudang magaling!" exclaimed head coach Nes Pamilar. "Pinanindigan niya lahat ng sinabi niya na magtra-trabaho siya sa likod."
"Pag nasa harap 'yan, di mo kailangan mag-timeout," Pamilar added. "Alam niya kung kailan kailangan umi-score at gagawan niya ng paraan para maipuntos lang niya."
Pamilar also got a big boost from skipper Angeli Tabaquero, who returned from injury to fire 19 points even as Joy Benito and Royse Tubino added 11 and 10 markers, respectively.
The Power Pinays trailed two sets to one after the first 3 frames, but zoomed in the last two to finish the Sri Lankans off and bank in their first win after 3 straight losses.
Maizo was at the forefront of that last-ditch attack, leading PH in a 6-0 run and nailing the match-winning point in the 5th set that sealed the fate of Sri Lanka.
“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!”
And if they battle the odds once more and beat Myanmar on Tuesday, September 17, the 16th-seeded Power Pinays would finish the tournament no lower than 12th.
“If we rank higher than Indonesia and Myanmar, almost sure nang ipapadala din tayo sa SEA Games.” Pamilar said. “That is how crucial our ranking will be.”
Pilipinas volleyball on the rise
Sri Lanka coach Wannithilaka was surprised with how the Philippine crew faced his team.
"We don't know how they play," he admitted. "We didn't know what we're up against. They really caught us off-guard."
“I think they won because of their powerful attacks,” he stressed. “This team is strong and will get stronger in the coming years.”
Somarathna led Sri Lanka with 19 big points off 15 spikes, 2 blocks and 2 service aces followed by Madumali and Chamarika with 12 and 8, respectively. - Rappler.com