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Filipina spikers bow to Chinese Taipei, finish sixth in AVC Cup

The national women’s volleyball team suffered a 26-28, 21-25, 21-25 loss to Chinese Taipei to settle for sixth in the classification phase of the Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup for Women Monday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Middle blocker Celine Domingo was the lone bright spot for the Filipinas offensively while top hitters Jema Galanza and Tots Carlos were heavily defended from start to finish in the final game of this prestigious continental tourney.

Domingo fired 12 points while Galanza and Carlos, who were brilliant in their five-set victory over Australia in the classification phase on Sunday, was held to just eight and six points, respectively, n thanks to the stifling Taiwanese defense at the net.

Although the home team put up a strong fight in the first set, they crumbled under pressure in the second and third sets.

In the decider, the Taiwanese uncorked a 5-1 rally followed by an attack error by Carlos to seal the win and avenge the defeat suffered by their compatriots, KingWhale Taipei, in the finals of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference recently.

Still, the sixth place is the country’s best finish in the Asian level as it eclipsed the ninth-place performance in 2018 despite the absence of star spiker Alyssa Valdez.

National head coach Sherwin Meneses lauded his wards, hoping that the confidence they gained in this tourney that is being lorded over by Asian superpowers China and Japan will be carried over to the ASEAN Grand Prix in September.

After all, the Grand Prix that will be held in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand will be a good preparation for the country’s campaign in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games.

“Our team had a chance to face a lot of teams and get a lot of experience and exposure,” Meneses, a two-time PVL champion, said.

“Hopefully, we can get to absorb that in our next tournaments.”

Chang Li-Wen fired 14 attacks, three kill blocks and an ace for 18 points while Chen Tzu-Ya scored all of her 11 markers from the attack zone for the Taiwanese, who drew inspired performance from KingWhale standouts Chen Jia-Man, Lai Xiang-Chen, Lin Shu-Ho and Kan Ko-Hui.

Chang, Chen, Lai, Lin and Kan, however, failed to see action in the PVL as they were already in the thick of their preparation with the Chinese Taipei national team.

Skipper Jia de Guzman said she is proud of her team as their chemistry and adaptability allowed them to get this far into the tournament.

“We only had one system so even if our bench players come in, we don’t have to worry that much since they know what to do inside,” De Guzman said.

“That has been the way we won our games and made some close calls in our losses.”

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