Kazakhs survive PHI scare to salvage a 7th place finish
Katerina Tatko of Kazakhstan penetrates an attack off Philippines' Jaja Santiago.
BINAN CITY, Laguna –-- The Philippines gave Kazakhstan a scare after rallying back from two sets down.
But the Filipinas faded fast in the fifth set and got buried early as the Kazakhs survived a 25-20, 25-16, 21-25, 21-25, 15-3, thriller Thursday to salvage a seventh place finish in the 19th AVC Asian Senior Women's Volleyball Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena here.
Despite the loss that landed the PHI to an 8th place finish, head coach Francis Vicente praised his wards for giving a good fight.
“Kinapos, siguro at least nag-five sets tayo, pinrove natin na kaya pala natin ‘tong mga ‘to,” said Vicente, whose squad will fly to Malaysia on Saturday for the 29th Kuala Lumpur, Southeast Asian Games.
“So kailangan lang natin pumukpok pa sa ensayo, push pa natin ang sarili natin para gumaling,” added the mentor, whose team clinched a spot in the 2018 AVC Asian Volleyball Cup.
Kazkahstan bounced back mightily in the fifth set after yielding two straight frames, building an 8-1 lead at change court behind the solid net defense Yekaterina Zhdanova, with the only point of the PHI coming off a service error by Katerina Tatko.
Jovelyn Gonzaga scored the PHI’s first point in the frame on an off the block hit with Kazakhstan comfortably ahead 10-2.
Jaja Santiago got a hit to put a small dent on the Kazakhs, 11-3, lead before eventually bowing down. Alessya Safronova sparked the closing run with a kill block, followed by another Kazakh denial before Alyssa Valdez smashed her attack right on the net.
Zhdanova blasted 24 points of 19 kills and five kill blocks while Tatko finished with 15 as the Kazakhs reasserted their mastery over the PHI, which they swept in the first round.
Radmilla Beresneva and Alla Bogdashkina scored 14 each for the Kazakhs, who duplicated their finish in the tournament two years ago in Tianjin, China.
The Kazakhs caught the Pinays flatfooted early to build a 2-0 match lead before the host team found second wind to tie the duel highlighted by a tight race to the finish in the fourth.
Kazakhstan protected a 15-13 lead in the fourth only to see the Filipinas take a 22-19 lead. The Kazkhs kept it close, 23-21, before Jovelyn Gonzaga found an open spot to direct her off speed attack to push the PHI at set point.
An attack error by Kazakhstan’s Irina Kenshebayeva put the match into a deciding frame.
Santiago scored 18 points while Valdez and Gonzaga finished with 11 and 10 markers, respectively, for the PHI, which despite the loss will still have a good momentum heading into the SEA Games after surpassing its 12th place finish in 2015.
The country also landed at 8th place back in 2003 in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam where the PHI lost in straight sets also against Kazakhstan. The Pinays’ best finish was in 1983 in Fukuoka, Japan at fifth.
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