Vietnam denies PHI a podium finish, pockets women's volleyball bronze

Vietnam denies PHI a podium finish in women's volleyball
The Philippine national team once again came up short in its quest for a podium finish.

KUALA LUMPUR --- The Philippines had its chance to bring home a medal in women’s volleyball.

But the podium finish continued to elude the Filipina spikers as the Nationals came up short in the 29th Southeast Asian Games battle for bronze against Vietnam, 27-25, 22-25, 20-25, 21-25, Sunday morning at the MITEC Hall 11 here.

The 2015 Singapore edition silver medalists salvaged a medal finish after reasserting their mastery over the Filipinas, who they beat in the group stage last Friday.

Tran Thi Thanh Thuy did most of the damage with 26 points off 22 kills, three kill blocks and an ace while team captain Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hoa and Doan Thi Xuan scored 20 and 10 markers, respectively, for Vietnam.

After surrendering the opening frame to the Filipinas, Vietnam took the next three sets but not after surviving PHI’s tough resistance despite the Pinays losing Maika Ortiz early in the fourth frame after a bad fall.  

The PHI had a shaky start as the Filipinas squandered an early 7-3 lead to yield the driver’s seat to the Vietnamese. The Pinay spikers rallied repeatedly for a neck and neck race to close the frame.

The Filipinas saved two set points with Jaja Santiago kill tying it at 25. Vietnam committed an attack error on the next play before Alyssa Valdez iced the frame with an of the block hit.     

Vietnam returned the favor in the second set as the 2015 Singapore edition silver medalist squad overhauled a 17-20 deficit to win eight of the last 10 rallies for the match equalizer.      

The Vietnamese again engaged the PHI in a tight battle in the third before building a 20-15 cushion to create enough separation to control the frame.        

A 14-7 start by Vietnam in the fourth set was enough to silence the PHI and the Filipino crowd that filled the arena.  

Jaja Santiago led PHI with 20 points anchored on 17 attacks and three aces while Alyssa Valdez finished with 17. Jovelyn Gonzaga had 13 and Aby Marano added nine for the Nationals.

Despite the devastating loss, the Filipinas, who defeated Vietnam in the quarterfinals classification round of the 2017 AVC Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship recently, already surpassed their previous finish at fifth spot back in 2015.

Yet still, the Nationals were left empty-handed as the podium drought now extended to 12 years since the Nationals salvaged a bronze medal back in 2005 Manila SEA Games.    

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