The national squad is starting to find its groove following a morale-boosting win in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup for Women late Wednesday at the Philsports Arena.
After back-to-back setbacks, the Nationals displayed tremendous grace under pressure to pull off a 25-19, 25-22, 20-25, 25-14 victory over Iran to boost their chances for the quarterfinals.
The Philippines is facing a youthful South Korean squad at press time for a win that will formalize its quarterfinal entry.
Jema Galanza said the patience they exerted from their sorry losses to Vietnam and China in their first two matches paid a handsome reward against the Iranians, who are ranked No. 74 in the world.
“We just applied whatever lessons we learned in training and our past games. Against Iran, we just needed to stay patient and not get hasty with our hits,” said Galanza, who topscored for the Philippines with 21 points.
Middle blocker Jeanette Panaga agrees, saying that their losses to Vietnam and China boost their mental toughness that led to the country’s first win over the Iranians since 2015.
“We learned a lot from those losses to Vietnam and China. We applied the lessons we learned from those game so we got the win,” Panaga said, adding that their calm and relaxed outlook in the fourth set served as the key to their impressive win.
“The team just needed to enjoy the fourth set before making sure to take the win.”
True enough, the crucial fourth-set rally pushed the national squad to victory.
After losing the third set, 20-25, the Nationals stepped on the gas as Galanza and Michele Gumabao did damage at the attack zone while Panaga tightened the defensive screws at the net.
Whenever the ball gets past Panaga’s blockade, libero Kyla Atienza was there to take care of their floor defense, resulting to a 19-7 explosion that drew cheers from the huge crowd that trooped to the venue.
The Iranians, behind the gallant stand of Mahsa Kadkhoda, tried to fight back, but Galanza caught the defense napping, connecting a drop shot that sealed the victory.
Gumabao said their ability to adjust was a big help to their success.
“What’s great in the game versus Iran was that we were able to adjust regardless of the opponent’s score. Coach (Sherwin Meneses) just told us to adjust to our positions,” Gumabao said.
“We play with no pressure but a lot of pride for the Philippines so we will continue to do our best and continue every single game.”
Meneses said the win over Iran will definitely give the team a big boost heading into the crucial stretch of this prestigious Asian tourney.
“The win today (Wednesday) will definitely help us and hope we can improve more because it’s important to improve every game in international competitions,” Meneses said.