The Philippine national team muscled its way into the quarterfinals after sweeping hapless Macau, 25-14, 25-12 25-9 in its opening match in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Challenge Cup for Women on Monday at the Tridharma Sports Hall in Gresik, Indonesia.
Superb net defense complemented the Filipinas’ relentless attacks to grab the resounding victory in Pool A despite a short time of preparation.
The win gave the Pinay spikers a quarterfinal ticket to join host Indonesia, which they will face tonight at 8 p.m. (Manila time).
Philippines and Indonesia, which whipped Macau, 25-7, 25-18, 25-8, last Sunday, are grouped in the next round with India and Australia, which got seats in the quarters outright being the only two teams in Pool C.
Ezra Madrigal, one of the six Akari players on the team, was the focal point of the Nationals’ block party as the middle blocker tallied six of the team’s 11 kill blocks to frustrate Macau’s attackers.
Rising stars Faith Nisperos and AC Miners were also efficient on offense run by veteran setter Djanel Cheng while seasoned winger Aiza Maizo-Pontillas displayed vintage form and provided leadership and stability inside the court.
The Jorge de Brito-mentored Filipinas looked rusty early in the first two sets as they struggled with cohesiveness and familiarity brought about by less than two weeks of training for the tournament.
Macau went ahead, 5-4, in the second frame but the Filipinas quickly recovered to create enough separation to control the set.
Smelling blood, the Nationals buried Macau in a deep hole to close the match in 63 minutes.
The Philippines hammered 40 attack points compared to Macau’s 12 and had nine more kill blocks than its opponent.
The Nationals landed six aces but gave Macau three service winners and 18 free points off their miscues.
In the quarterfinals, teams will carry over their respective records in the prelims and will only play against teams they have yet to face.
The top two teams will advance to the knockout crossover semifinal.