Chemistry served as the key that led to the successful stint of the national women’s team in the 2022 Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup for Women.
Skipper Jia de Guzman said their chemistry and familiarity with the system played a crucial role that led to their sixth-place finish in this prestigious continental tourney that came to a close Monday at the Philsports Arena.
Powerhouse Japan ruled the tourney following a four-set victory over China in the gold medal match. Thailand came in third while Vietnam finished fourth.
The Nationals had a chance to grab the fifth place, but they suffered a straight-set loss to Chinese Taipei in the classification phase of this nine-team tourney.
Still, De Guzman said they have nothing to be ashamed of.
“Sixth place here is a big improvement,” she said, adding that longer preparation could have helped them gain a better performance.
“But the answer here is long-term system and the preparation for these contests should be for the long term.”
True enough, the Nationals were given a very limited time to prepare.
Actually, the distinction of representing the country belongs to the national squad, but the Philippine National Volleyball Federation made a sudden change of heart and decided to field the champion of the Premier Volleyball League, which happened to be Creamline.
The Cool Smashers were given only few days of preparation with their top spiker, Alyssa Valdez, begging off after contracting dengue while Risa Sato was placed under health protocols.
Even De Guzman and head coach Sherwin Meneses missed their first game against Vietnam as they were also placed in isolation.
Although the Nationals lost to Vietnam and China in straight sets, their chemistry and familiarity was in full display in yielding a four-set loss to Iran and sweeping a young South Korean squad to advance to the quarterfinals.
Against Thailand, the squad that has been ruling Southeast Asia since 1995, the Creamline core of De Guzman, Tots Carlos, Celine Domingo, Jema Galanza and Michele Gumabao delivered and stole a set for the very first time since their gold medal match in the 1993 SEA Games in Singapore.
The Filipinas lost, but they gained momentum, enough to topple the Australians in five sets to gain a shot at a historic fifth spot.
Although they surrendered to the Taiwanese in the battle for fifth, it was still a mission accomplished, something that they will cherish as they compete in the ASEAN Grand Prix in Thailand starting 9 September.
Meneses said they will show up prepared and armed with their chemistry, familiarity and newfound confidence after giving the best teams in Asia a serious run for their money.
“I’m thankful for the players who stepped up in the tournament. Entering the tournament, familiarity and team chemistry is something you need,” said Meneses, who made a lot of heads turn in his first stint as national team head coach.
“Hopefully, we will carry over the exposure we got on our way to Thailand.”