PH rallies to stun India in five sets, boosts AVC Challenge Cup semis bid
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine women’s volleyball team leaned on veteran spikers Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Shaya Adorador to pull off a 25-22, 26-28, 11-25, 29-27, 18-16 win over India in the 2023 Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup for Women at Tri Dharma Petrokimia Gresik Gymnasium in East Java, Indonesia.
Pontillas and Adorador joined hands to lift the Philippines from a 1-2 deficit and delivered the big blows in the fifth set, handing the Indians their first defeat in the tournament and pushing the Filipinos closer to the semifinals.
Setter Djanel Cheng also stepped up and nailed the timely blocks and game-winning ace.
Pontillas, who has been showing the way for the national team, finished with 27 points, hitting 26 of her 53 spike attempts, while Adorador delivered 23 points including three aces.
The Filipino spikers blew an 8-5 lead in the fifth after Aswani Kandoth put India at match point, 14-13. Byt AC Miner came to the rescue and blocked Nirmal to force a deuce. Adorador and Cheng put the team at match point twice but Kandoth was there to equalize the frame, 16-16.
Adorador scored a cross-court hit to help the Philippines reach match point anew before Cheng drilled an ace to end the grueling two-hour and 29-minute duel.
The Filipinos improved to 1-1 in Pool E, tying its victims behind leader Indonesia (2-0), which ousted Australia, 25-13, 25-17, 25-16.
They have to beat the also-ran Australia on Friday to book a ticket to the semifinal round on Saturday as only the top two teams from Pool E will advance.
Faith Nisperos was also instrumental in the victory with 14 points with Cheng providing the brilliant plays and scoring nine points built on a team-high five blocks. AC Miner added nine markers.
The Filipinos took the opening set but lost steam after falling short in the second set and got dominated by the Indians in the third.
Trailing 19-21 in the fourth set, Adorador fired three straight aces in her personal 4-0 run before Eli Soyud put them at set point, 24-21. But the Indians scored three consecutive points and took the match point, 26-25, off Anushree Kambrath’s kill.
Pontillas took matters into her own hands, finishing three of the last four points to force a deciding fifth set.
The women’s national team bounced back from a 17-25, 20-25, 10-25 loss to host Indonesia that was carried over to the quarterfinal round.
Kambrath led India with 25 points. Soorya chipped in 19 points, while Nirmal had 17 markers.