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Pinay spikers gun for semis seat

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF AVC The Philippine women’s volleyball team tackles Australia in an all-important battle for a semifinal seat in the AVC Challenge Cup for Women in Gresik, Indonesia.

The Philippines hopes to seize the golden opportunity to advance to the semifinals in a must-win battle against listless Australia as action in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Challenge Cup for Women quarterfinals resumes Friday at the Tridharma Sports Hall in Gresik, Indonesia.

Game time is set at 5:30 p.m. (Manila time) with the Filipinas hoping to sustain the momentum of their thrilling five-set escape over India Wednesday night to beat the also-ran Australians.

The Nationals banked on the vintage form of Aiza Maizo-Pontillas to outlast India in a marathon extended five-setter, 25-22, 26-28, 11-25, 29-27, 18-16, to improve their carryover win-loss record to 1-1 tied with their victim.

Pontillas connived with Petro Gazz teammate seasoned setter Djanel Cheng to pour in 24 points and had plenty of help on offense with Foton star Shaya Adorador chipping in 23 markers while Akari newcomer Faith Nisperos added 14 in the Philippines’ escape.

The Pinay spikers shook off a third set drubbing and fought off the Indians in the extended fourth frame to force the decider.

The fifth set turned into a battle of runs with the Philippines taking a 9-6 advantage off an Adorador crosscourt kill only to allow India to string four straight points to gain a 10-9 lead. From there, it was a nip-and-tuck affair as the frame went into another extended play.

Cheng put the Nationals at match point advantage, 16-15, off a kill block on Anushree Kambrath but India forced another deuce on a quick attack by Aswani Kandoth.

Adorador’s cross pushed the Philippines to its third match point before Cheng sealed the win with her service slicing through the open back row.

In order to take a semis seat, the Filipinas need not only to win over Australia but also pray that unbeaten host Indonesia defeats India in their quarters pairing at 8 p.m.

India currently holds a 4-2 advantage over the Philippines in match points.

If the Philippines beats Australia and India upsets Indonesia, the Indians and Indonesians will take the semis berths by virtue of superior match points.

Indonesia swept Australia, 25-13, 25-17, 25-16, in their quarters meeting for its third straight win in the tournament.

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