PH spikers beat Singapore, face Thailand in SEA Games 2023 volleyball semis
MANILA, Philippines — Alyssa Valdez returned in limited action and nailed the game-winning attack as the Philippine women’s volleyball team booked the last semifinal ticket in Group B with a 25-17, 25-14, 25-13 victory over Singapore in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games on Thursday at Indoor Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Team captain Valdez played for the first time in the tournament missing the first two matches in the preliminary round, making her return since suffering a right knee injury in December. It’s also her first game on the international stage since last year’s Vietnam Games after missing Creamline’s campaign in the AVC Cup and Asean Grand Prix due to dengue.
The five-time SEA Games campaigner, who was also the flag bearer for the Philippines in this year’s SEA Games, played as a service specialist in the first two sets. But in the closing moments of the third when Jema Galanza put the team at match point, 24-13, national team coach Jorge Souza De Brito fielded Valdez in the front line and delivered the game-winning spike to clinch a semifinal berth.
Valdez’s teammates rushed their way to the court and hugged her after her first kill in six months.
The Philippines finished with a 2-1 record in Pool B after bouncing back from its 20-25, 17-25, 19-25 loss to Vietnam as Kat Tolentino and Tots Carlos led the balanced attack with 11 points each.
Galanza provided the spark from the bench as she scored six of her 10 points in the second set, while Paat set the pace for the lopsided match as she waxed hot early in the opening set and finished with nine points.
Middle blockers Dell Palomata and Celine Domingo were also instrumental for the Filipino Spikers.
The Philippine team will face 13-straight SEA Games champion Thailand in a knockout semis game on Saturday after the latter swept all its three matches in Group A capped by a 25-12, 25-14, 25-15 win over Malaysia earlier.
Vietnam, which was eyeing to sweep Group B against the winless Cambodia as of posting time, will face Indonesia in the semis.
This is the first time that the nationals are playing in a crossover semifinal as the top two teams of the single round robin earned the finals berth in the past two SEA Games with only four and five teams participating in the 2019 and last year’s editions, respectively.
Philippines, led by Valdez, faced Thailand in the knockout semifinal game last 2017 in Kuala Lumpur but the latter prevailed in straight sets.
Singapore finished 1-3 in Group B and will be relegated in the classification round with Quek Soo Teng, Chua Zi Tian, and Chua Jolyn Xin Yi leading the way in the loss.