PHI volleybelles sweep Malaysia to start SEA Games campaign

By Dugout Philippines

KUALA LUMPUR–The Philippines kicked off its campaign on a sizzling note when it dominated Malaysia, 25-18, 25-11, 25-16, in the 29th Southeast Asian Games women’s volleyball competition Thursday at MITEC Hall 11 here.

Fresh from campaigning in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship, the Filipina spikers looked sharp and deadly early on, allowing head coach Francis Vicente to try different combinations in preparation for their titanic battle against Vietnam on Friday.

The Philippines dominated Vietnam in the Asian tourney and it would be interesting to see how the star-studded national squad would fare against the regional powerhouse in the biennial meet.

The Philippines is now in the semifinals via the virtue of Vietnam’s straight-set conquest of Malaysia on Wednesday.

A victory by the Philippines over Vietnam will give it the top spot in Group B and will face the second seed in Group A composed of Indonesia, Myanmar and 12-time SEA Games champion Thailand in the semifinals.

Jaja Santiago delivered 11 kills and a block for team-high 13 points while Aby Marano chipped in 11 markers for the Nationals, who flexed their muscle early on and never looked back.

Team captain Mika Reyes said the victory is a good start for the team that is shooting for a podium finish for the first time since winning the bronze medal in the 2005 SEA Games in Bacolod City.

“This is a good start,” said Reyes, the former La Salle star who is now campaigning for Petron in the Philippine Superliga.

“But we should still not get complacent. We still have to work hard and win over Vietnam to make it easier for us to reach our goal. Kailangan pa din namin pagtrabahuhan lahat yan.”

Reyes said their four-set conquest of the Vietnamese in the Asian tourney is a major morale-booster for them entering into their crucial match set at 2 p.m.

“Of course, we have already proven na kaya namin manalo, but we still have to work hard and avoid getting complacent.”

Vicente echoed Reyes’ statement, saying that they still have to work hard against Vietnam to avoid a head-on collision with the possible top seed in the other bracket – reigning champion Thailand – in the semifinals.

“We still need to push more. We still have to work. Hindi pa tayo pwedeng tumigil,” he said. “We came here to compete; not to be celebrities. Our goal here is to win.”

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