SEA Games: Philippines sweeps Malaysia in women’s volleyball opener
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine women’s volleyball team opened its 31st Southeast Asian Games campaign with a rousing 25-14, 25-20, 25-15 victory over Malaysia on Friday at Quang Ninh Gymnasium in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Jaja Santiago was nearly unstoppable, displaying her deadly quick attacks and formidable net defense in her return to the national team after missing the 2019 edition.
The 6-foot-5 middle blocker, who plays for Ageo Medics in Japan V.League, delivered the first win of the team after a winless campaign in the four-team competition of the Philippine SEA Games nearly three years ago.
Setter Kyle Negrito, a last minute replacement for Deanna Wong, also shone in her biennial meet debut, providing the brilliant plays as Mylene Paat and Ces Molina formed a potent combo to give Brazilian coach Jorge Souza de Brito a winning debut as national team head coach.
It was the Philippine women’s volleyball team’s first win since the preliminary round of the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia.
After a blazing opening set win, the Philippines squandered an 8-1 second set lead as Malaysia stole the momentum and built a 17-14 advantage. Alyssa Valdez, Kat Tolentino and Santiago joined hands to regain the lead, 20-19.
Jema Galanza’s ace stretched the lead to 21-19 before Santiago, Ria Meneses and Molina put on the finishing touches for a two-set advantage.
The Filipino Spikers routed the Malaysians in the third set with an 18-5 start and never looked back as Paat nailed the game-winning spike.
The Philippines will be tested on Saturday, facing the defending champion Thailand at 3 p.m. Manila time.