MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine women’s volleyball team absorbed a heartbreaking straight-sets sweep at the hands of Vietnam, 25-19, 25-17, 31-29, to kick off their 2022 Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Cup for Women on Sunday, August 21.
Despite falling short of forcing a fourth set, several national team players like Michele Gumabao and two-time Premier Volleyball League (PVL) MVP Tots Carlos excelled against the perennial Southeast Asian (SEA) Games medal contenders.
However, no one shone brighter than starting libero Kyla Atienza, one of the most underrated standouts in the championship-winning Creamline core that currently makes up the Philippine team.
As Vietnamese stars like “T4” Thi Thanh Thuy Tran rained down powerful hits from start to finish, the former FEU stalwart stood her ground, and helped the Philippines stay alive – most especially in the thrilling third set where the hosts held extended set points three times before ultimately falling.
“I’m really proud because we fought until the end. Even though we’re not that complete, we know our bond is strong as a team,” Atienza said in Filipino after the game – her first as a national team member.
As the Philippines endured the loss of key pieces like Alyssa Valdez, Jia de Guzman, and Risa Sato at the last minute, Atienza faced the challenge head on, continued to shore up the defense like she always had with Creamliine, and drew some of the night’s loudest cheers with her stellar floor defense.
“I just kept in my mind to enjoy the game because I know I’m more needed by the team now, especially with so much going on. We all need to step up,” she said.
Unfortunately, her excellence on Sunday night could not be quantified as the AVC does not keep track of non-scoring stats. Nonetheless, Atienza passed the eye test with flying colors, and will have more opportunities to show off at the international stage as the pool phase moves along.
Although the Philippines has an even tougher task ahead in its next match against China on Tuesday, August 23, Atienza is just using her experience against Vietnam to hopefully boost the team’s morale – win or lose.
“We’re happy because we’re fighting. I’m just really happy with the way we performed as a team,” she said.
“For me, it’s a good experience and exposure to play against other countries in the AVC.” – Rappler.com