Pinay Spikers fall short in five-set thriller over Vietnam

Philippines ran out of gas as it dropped a five-set decision over Vietnam, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 15-8, in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games women’s volleyball tournament, Tuesday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

Down 1-2 in sets, the Nationals dragged their debut match to a fifth but the Vietnamese had other things in mind as the latter handed the host their first loss in the biennial meet.

Alyssa Valdez unloaded 20 kills and a couple of aces for team-high 22 markers laced with 12 reception all for naught as the Pinay spikers joined Indonesia in the losing column with a 0-1 card.

Ces Molina and Jovelyn Gonzaga chimed in 12 hits apiece for the Philippines, who is now in dangerous position as it needs to defeat Thailand on Thursday and Indonesia on Saturday to advance to the Finals.

Thi Thanh Thuy Tran has had a monster outing as she paced Vietnam with game-high 26 points, 13 digs and 13 reception for a triple-double performance.

Thi Xuan Nguyen and Thi Nga Bui helped the Vietnamese ace, chipping 15 and 14 tallies, respectively, as their squad avenged their back-to-back losses against Philippines in the 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix.

The tricolor squad had the slight edge in attacks (62-60) and aces (4-1) but the visiting team had the advantage in blocks (9-15).

The opening salvo saw the two contenders in a back-and-forth affair before the Philippines pulled away from the 13-point mark for an 18-13 advantage. Vietnam retaliated behind T4’s heroics to cut the deficit to one, 22-21.

Molina then came through with two consecutive kills to bring the host team to set point before a Majoy Baron block sealed the victory.

T4 continued to carry the Vietnamese on her back in the second frame as her squad erased an early 4-8 disadvantage en route to a 24-20 lead. The Nationals made a late 3-0 run off a back-to-back Valdez hit before the visiting team came up with the finisher.

Vietnam doused a 0-3 start in the third, turning the momentum in their favor for a deciding 22-13 cushion built from a 9-point run.

With their backs against the wall, Philippines came back to life for a 10-4 separation in the fourth with Jia Morado taking over setting duties. The Vietnamese locked the set at 15, but the Pinay hitters were quick to recover zooming to a 21-16 blitz.

It was all Vietnam in the rubber set despite the home squad’s valiant effort at the start of the frame.