MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine women’s volleyball team put up a gallant stand in the third set but still fell short to a young but composed Vietnam side, 19-25, 17-25, 29-31, in its campaign opener in the AVC Cup on Sunday at PhilSports Arena.
The depleted Creamline Cool Smashers, who missed Alyssa Valdez and Risa Sato as well as setter Jia De Guzman and head coach Sherwin Meneses, couldn’t sustain their impressive start in the first two sets and their strong third set performance where they came back from an 11-17 deficit to even take set point advantage twice.
Tots Carlos, who struggled in the first two sets, caught fire in the third and delivered the crucial kills that kept the Philippines afloat.
Tran Thi Thanh Thuy brought Vietnam at match point twice but Jeanette Panaga and Carlos saved two points for the home team before the two-time Premier Volleyball League MVP put her squad on the verge of winning the set twice with a massive spike, 27-26, and a big block, 29-28.
However, Carlos’ succeeding attacks went out and got blocked coupled with a net touch that handed Vietnam’s first win in Pool A.
Tran, a Japan V-League import, led the Vietnamese with 20 points built on 17 attacks, two aces, and a block. Pham Thi Nguyet Anh and Tran Thi Bich Thuy had 10 points each, while Hoang Thi Kieu Trinh scored six of her eight markers in the third set.
Libero Kyla Atienza made an impressive international debut, trying to keep every ball alive all throughout the game that served as the foundation of her squad’s gritty showing.
Michele Gumabao and Jema Galanza also had their moments as the Filipino Spikers got off to a strong start in the first set, 8-4, before Tran stopped the bleeding for the Vietnamese and anchored a 13-3 run to build a 17-11 spread.
The Creamline pair kept Vietnam within striking distance, 19-16, but the visitors kept their composure.
The Filipino Spikers led again early in the second set, 8-6, but the Vietnamese overcame another shaky start and stole the momentum with an 18-13 advantage.
Panaga and Galanza trimmed it down to two, 18-16. But Tran put on the finishing touches as Vietnam zoomed to a two-set lead.
Galanza led Creamline’s attack with 13 points. Gumabao scattered nine attacks and two blocks to finish with 11 points. Carlos scored six of her nine markers in the third, as Celine Domingo added seven.
Vietnam takes on fellow opening day winner and defending champion China on Monday while the Philippines faces the five-time AVC Cup champion on Tuesday night.
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