AVC Challenge Cup: PH suffers quick loss to Iran, drops to battle for 7th
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine women’s volleyball team’s downward spiral in the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup continues as it got swept by Iran, 20-25, 13-25, 16-25, in the classification round on Saturday at Tri Dharma Petrokimia Gresik Gymnasium in East Java, Indonesia.
The Filipino Spikers went from inching a win closer to a semifinal appearance to being relegated to the battle for seventh as they were dominated by the Iranians, led by the pair of Masha Kadkhoda and Mona Ashofteh.
Licking the wounds of their 18-25, 22-25, 25-21, 20-25 loss to Australia that shattered their semis hopes on Friday, the national team continued to struggle with Kadkhoda dealing the damage with 19 points including four aces.
Ashofteh was also instrumental for Iran with 14 points to advance to the battle for fifth against Australia, which beat Uzbekistan, 25-21, 17-25, 28-26, 25-19, earlier.
After falling in the first two sets, the Philippines showed some life in the third set behind the efforts of Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Jules Samonte taking a 14-13 lead. However, the Filipinos lost steam allowing the Iranians to score 12 of the last 14 points — eight consecutive to seal the lopsided win.
The Nationals, composed of new members, will wrap up their campaign in the battle for 7th on Sunday against Uzbekistan.
The Philippines lost two in a row since beating India in five sets to move on the cusp of a semis appearance but it failed to clinch the berth in its most important quarterfinal match against the also-ran Australia.
After the tournament, the national players, mostly from Akari as well as Petro Gazz’s duo Pontillas and Djanel Cheng and Foton’s Shaya Adorador, will play in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference starting on Tuesday at FilOil EcoOil Centre.