AVC Asian Cup: Pinays square off with Aussies in opener

Mark Escarlote on Sep 16, 2018 01:10 PM
AVC Asian Cup: Pinays square off with Aussies in opener
The Philippine national women's volleyball team takes on Australia to open its AVC Asian Cup campaign. (FILE PHOTO)

The Philippine national women’s volleyball team begins its campaign in the AVC Asian Cup with an early test against a much taller Australian squad Sunday at the Korat Chatchai Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

Action in the Pool C match is set at 5:00 p.m. (Manila time).

Team captain Aby Marano and Alyssa Valdez lead the way for the retooled Nationals, who are looking to win at least two games in the four-team group stage to advance in the quarterfinals.

But it won’t be a walk in the park battle for the Filipinas as they will take on an experienced Australian squad bannered by middle blocker Beth Carey, who played for Cignal in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix.

It will be the country’s first encounter with the Aussies since the 2015 AVC Asian Seniors Women’s Championship in Tianjin, China. Australia defeated the PHI, 25-18, 25-18, 24-26, 25-15.

 After taking on Australia, the Nationals will face Iran on Monday before squaring off with Kazakhstan in a rematch of their seventh place battle in the Asian Games a couple of weeks ago.

The top two teams after the round robin pool play will advance in the quarterfinals.

Head coach Shaq Delos Santos is managing their expectations after losing half of his Asiad core.   

Towering sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat are unavailable because of their commitments with their respective Japanese clubs, setter Kim Fajardo sustained a knee injury while De La Salle University players Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron and 2017 Asian Seniors Women’s Volleyball Championship 2nd Best Libero Dawn Macandili are in New York.

Back for another tour of duty are Cha Cruz-Behag, Maika Ortiz, Mylene Paat, Denden Lazaro and Mika Reyes, who helped the PHI finish eighth in the Asiad. Joining them are Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Jasmine Nabor, Grethcel Soltones and Creamline’s Jema Galanza, Mel Gohing, Jia Morado and Risa Sato.

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