Donít underestimate the Philippine team -- Vicente
Aby Marano of the Philippines tries to elude the block attempt of Korea's Kim Yeonkoung.
BINAN CITY, Laguna –-- The Philippine national women’s volleyball team may have lost in straight sets against Asian giant South Korea but their performance earned the Filipinas respect.
Head coach Francis Vicente considered the match as a moral victory for the Philippines despite bowing down, 23-25, 18-25, 12-25, to Korea Sunday in Pool E quarterfinals classification round of the 19th AVC Asian Senior Women's Volleyball Championship.
It was the PHI’s most thrilling performance in the tournament. The home crowd that flocked the Alonte Sports Arena cherished and celebrated – even for a brief moment – the stretch were the Pinays threatened a comeback in the closing moment of the first and tasting three-point lead against the FIVB world no. 10 ranked Koreans, who are 69 places higher than the PHI.
“Siguro may threat 'yung team,” said Vicente, who was all smiles when approached by reporters outside their dugout. “Nakita nila palaban ang Pilipino so para sa akin don’t underestimate the Philippine team.”
Vicente was proud of how his team forced Korea to field its ace hitter Kim Yeonkoung in all of the sets – the first time the Korean scorer saw action for the whole match in the tournament.
The PHI relentlessly put pressure on the 2015 runner-up Koreans especially in the first and second set.
“Hindi tayo victorious sa game pero victorious tayo sa threat,” he said. ”It’s a very big morale-booster na ipinasok nila ang one of the world’s best attacker.”
The highlight of the match was when Korea head coach Sungjin Hong fielded KYK with his squad having trouble in closing the opening frame despite holding a 24-19 lead.
Jovelyn Gonzaga and Aby Marano teamed up to score four straight points. After Marano’s service ace pushed the PHI at 23-24, Hong sent in KYK, who immediately made an impact and iced the frame with a sharp kill.
Boosted with their great performance in the opening set, the Pinays raced to a 12-9 lead but KYK rallied her team back to silence the home team and the home crowd.
KYK started in the third set and led the Koreans to finish off the Pinays, which Korea beat in straight sets, 8-25, 7-25, 8-25, two years ago in the Tianjin, China edition of the tournament.
“Masaya naman sila kaya lang medyo for the team na lang and discussion kanina. Hindi ko naman sila pinapagalitan eh,” said Vicente of the team’s reaction inside the locker room.
“For a team that is built for a half a month (before the tournament) hindi mo pa nga ma-e-expect na talagang buong buo ‘yan,” he added. “They can chit chat with one another, pero deeply knowing each other hindi pa ganoon katindi ‘yun.”
Vicente also saw the match as a big boost to the team’s confidence heading into a showdown against 29th Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games opponent Vietnam on Monday.
The Pool E classification round will determine the placings of the teams in the knockout crossover quarterfinals against the teams in Pool F composed of Japan, Thailand, defending champion China and Chinese-Taipei. Action in the quartefinals begins Tuesday.
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