MANILA, Philippines - For its final game in this year’s Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship, the Philippine national women’s volleyball team once against faced a much taller, seasoned Kazakhstan squad, with the 7th place of the tournament on the line.
It was barely a week ago when the Kazakhs stood mightily with a straight-set victory over the nationals. For a while, it almost seemed as if those in attendance at the Alonte Sports Arena early Thursday morning would witness a repeat of the beating when Kazakhstan took a quick two sets to none lead.
But on their home soil, and with thousands of viewers present or watching at home, the Filipina spikers simply refused to pave an easy way out for their foes.
In the third and fourth sets, the Philippines slowly climbed to keep pace with Kazakhstan’s numbers, and the team found just enough gas to pedal on to force the match into a deciding set.
The higher-ranked FIVB squad just had the right amount of experience and maturity to bank on. They carried these advantages, and less of the pressure, to cruise to a pleasant 10-1 cushion in the 5th set en route to a 20-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-21, 3-15 win.
“It was a tough loss for the team, definitely, because we were there. We were almost there,” Alyssa Valdez shared after the crushing 5-set defeat.
“Ganoon talaga ‘yung volleyball may nananalo, may natatalo,” she added in the post-game interview. “We’re gonna get it next time, mas pagbubutihin pa namin sa mga susunod na laban.”
(That’s the way it goes for volleyball, someone wins and someone loses. We’re gonna get it next time, we’re gonna do better in our next competitions.)
Even with consecutive losses on the books, head coach Francis Vicente also shares how proud he is of the resilience constantly displayed by his crew.
“I’m very proud of them,” Vicente said of the 8th place Philippine team, which has still qualified for the 2018 Asian Volleyball Cup.
“Hindi sila nagpakita ng takot. Lagi silang lumalaban kahit 3 sets, 4 sets. Lagi silang lumalaban. Noong bandang huli lang, kinapos lang talaga.”
(They didn’t show signs of fear. They always kept on fighting whether in 3 sets, 4 sets. They just came up short in the end.)
With the valuable Asian Seniors experience in the bag, Valdez and the rest of the Philippine volleyball team have no choice but to move on as they shift their mindset to competing in yet another prestigious international contest - the Southeast (SEA) Games.
“We have to accept the loss, we have to move forward. On to the next goal, the SEA Games.”
“We have to be prepared mentally and physically,” said Valdez. “Meron pa tayong SEA Games, bawi lang nang bawi. Laban lang nang laban.”
(We still have the SEA Games. We just need to keep on recovering, and keep on fighting.)