Against vaunted China team, Creamline-PH eyes learning experience to boost playoff bid
MANILA, Philippines — Creamline head coach Sherwin Meneses lauded his undermanned Philippine women’s volleyball team after putting up a gallant fight against Vietnam and he is looking forward to gaining more experience against defending champion China on Monday in the AVC Cup at PhilSports Arena.
Meneses, who missed the opener with ace setter Jia De Guzman due to health reasons as well as Alyssa Valdez and Risa Sato who have been ruled out of the tournament, was pleased how the depleted Cool Smashers fought hard against Vietnam before losing 19-25, 17-25, 29-31 on Sunday.
“They played a very good game on [Sunday]. The teamwork is always there and they are very competitive as always,” the two-time Premier Volleyball League champion coach told Inquirer Sports.
Jema Galanza, Michele Gumabao, and Tots Carlos anchored the Philippines’ offense, while libero Kyla Atienza proved to be a revelation on her national team debut with her solid floor defense that kept the home side afloat against the Southeast Asia powerhouse Vietnamese.
Meneses, who is returning with De Guzman, is tempering expectations for their game against a formidable five-time champion China side.
But they will charge it to experience for their remaining Pool A games against Iran on Wednesday and South Korea on Thursday, needing to win at least one to reach the quarterfinals and avoid a ninth place finish.
“We’re focused on how to improve every game. Facing China is a big help [for us to learn what could help us] qualify for the quarterfinals. Because we all know that China is a very strong team,” said Meneses in Filipino. “One win is equivalent to a quarterfinal (berth). So I think we have a chance to improve for our remaining games until our last game versus Korea.”
China swept South Korea two days ago and survived Vietnam in five sets on Monday to stay unbeaten after two games in Pool A.
The home team has to keep an eye on the strong pair of Zhou Yetong and Zhuang Yushan, who have been delivering the goods for the Chinese so far.
De Guzman’s return is a timely boost for the Philippines as she is set to represent the country for the first time since the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
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