SEA Games: Pinay spikers’ podium bid ends in heartbreak
Mark Escarlote on Dec 09, 2019 06:08 PM
The Philippine women's volleyball team bombed out of a podium finish. (Arvin Lim)
The wait continues.
In what turned out to be the worst outing of the Philippines since its return in the Southeast Asian Games back in 2015, the Filipinas bowed down their heads in tears after a winless outing in women’s volleyball Monday.
The Nationals did show grit and displayed a gallant stand but their efforts weren’t enough to hide the disappointment of their campaign as they bombed out of the podium yet again in the 30th edition of the biennial meet with a 20-25, 26-24, 15-25, 25-20, 14-16 loss to Indonesia in the battle for bronze.
The already chilly newly-renovated PhilSports Arena in Pasig City turned colder after the final whistle, with the Nationals ending what should’ve been their biggest chance of ending a 14-year podium drought in a dud.
The Filipinas dropped all of their four matches in the competition including back-to-back losses to the Indonesians to finish fourth in a field of four. It was in 2005 during the previous hosting of the country that the Nationals occupied a spot on the podium with a bronze medal finish.
Megawati Pertiwi did most of the damage for the Indonesians with 35 points with 31 cominmg off attacks including the dagger to the heart of the Filipinas off the block hit. Arsela Purnama added 13 markers while Hany Budiarti added 11 markers for the Indonesians, who outgunned the host team, 67-57, and nailed 12 kill blocks and eight aces.
Meanwhile, Thailand won its 12th straight SEA Games gold medal after crushing Vietnam, 25-15, 25-15, 25-17, in the final.
The Nationals, who stuck with a different rotation without top hitter Alyssa Valdez, squandered a 7-5 lead in the fifth set as they allowed the Indonesians to knot the frame with back-to-back points.
Ces Molina and Mylene Paat stepped up big time in the closing stretch, hammering down the all-important points to give the Philippines a 12-8 advantage.
The Indonesians rallied to close the gap, 12-11, before Paat stopped the bleeding with a down the line kill. Indonesia Arsella Purnama answered with a kill before Molina broke the block to put the Philippines at match point, 14-12.
Indonesia saved two match points before Purnama’s off speed put the visiting team at match point advantage. Megawati Pertiwi broke the hearts of the Filipinas with an off the block hit.
Head coach Shaq Delos Santos' gambit in the fourth set injected new life to the Filipinas after a third frame drubbing.
Delos Santos sat out Valdez and setter Jia Morado to open the fourth set as he stuck with seldom-used middle Mika Reyes paired with Majoy Baron at the frontline, Molina, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Eya Laure at the wings with veteran playmaker Rhea Dimaculangan and libero Dawn Macandili.
It was an unpopular rotation but it worked wonders for the squad with Reyes and Laure scoring on crucial plays as the Filipinas opened a 21-12 lead coming off back-to-back hits from the duo.
The Indonesians cut its deficit to 23-18 before Molina accounted for the Nationals’ last two points to seal the set and force a decider.
Molina finished with 17 points with all but one coming off attacks and added 12 digs while Valdez scored 14 in three sets of play for the PHI. Baron had 11 points while Paat, Laure and Gonzaga got seven markers each.
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