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Breakthrough

Volleybelles nail first Asiad victory in 36 years, carry hope, momentum going into match vs Indonesia
By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:40 AM August 24, 2018

Photo from Asian Games website

JAKARTA—You can’t lose ‘em all. And, who knows, you can even win one more.

The Philippine women’s volleyball team, after two straight beat-downs in its return to the Asian Games, finally won one on Thursday afternoon and looked impressive mentally in doing so, ripping Hong Kong, 25-18, 25-21, 25-22, to virtually advance to the next round at GOR Bulungan Hall here.

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Alyssa Valdez and Jaja Santiago carried the fight for the glamorous, star-studded Philippine squad, which is playing in the Games for the first time since 1982 and looked like it didn’t belong after getting bamboozled by powers Thailand and Japan.

“There’s a lot of pride involved here,” said Valdez, the face of the resurgence of the sport back home after leading the Filipinos with 14 points built around 10 kills. Santiago had 12 points.

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The last time the Filipinos won a volleyball game in the Asiad was also in 1982, with Vangie de Jesus and Fe Mejia—key stars under the Project: Gintong Alay program of Michael Keon—led the Philippines to a three-set victory over India in the classification round.

With the latest win, the Philippines practically marched on to the quarterfinals with Hong Kong remaining winless at 0-2 and the top four from each group advancing.

“We need to fight for a better position, so we will go out hard against Indonesia,” coach Shaq delos Santos said as the Filipino volleybelles close out classification with their 7 p.m. (8 in Manila) clash with the hosts on Saturday.

The Indons dropped a set before beating Hong Kong on Tuesday. “We believe we can handle Indonesia,” Delos Santos said.

“We’ve played Indonesia so many times before, it wouldn’t be bad if we can win one,” Valdez, who also had four aces, added. “And like I said, it’s all about pride for us.”

Should Team Philippines make it all the way to the KO stages, the quarterfinals will start on Wednesday next week.

Mika Reyes, Majoy Baron and Dawn Macandili provided the Philippines with excellent defense to complement the team’s 45-37 edge in attacks.

“We were sluggish in our past two games,” Delos Santos said. “But every time we talk, we discuss positive things.”

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TAGS: Alyssa Valdez, Asian Games, Hong Kong, Jaja Santiago, Philippine women’s volleyball team
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