AVC Cup: Alas Pilipinas beats taller Australia to kick off campaign

SCHEDULE: Alas Pilipinas at the AVC Challenge Cup 2024

Alas Pilipinas in its debut in the AVC Challenge Cup 2024 against Australia AVC schedule

Alas Pilipinas in its debut in the AVC Challenge Cup 2024 against Australia. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Despite only having a short preparation time, Alas Pilipinas bucked an opening set upset to log its first victory in the AVC Challenge Cup opposite a much taller Australian side, 22-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-21, Thursday night at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

La Salle’s Angel Canino, one of the young bloods in the lineup, and Eya Laure provided big numbers for Alas with 17 points apiece.

Canino landed 15 attacks, a block and an ace for the strong opening game win and Laure 14 attacks, two aces and a block to give Australia its first loss after defeating Chinese-Taipei on Wednesday.

READ: AVC Cup: Angel Canino shines in Alas Pilipinas debut

“I couldn’t have done all this without my teammates, so credit goes to my teammates and the coaches because they guided me inside and outside the court,” Canino said. “I am very thankful to them because they are there for me.”

Sisi Rondina was in the zone and dropped 16 points mostly from attacks and an ace and Thea Gagate added 11 points, four coming from blocks.

“The big reason we got the win is the teamwork, given that our preparation time was short, but we did it,” Canino said after downplaying her impact on the game.

READ: AVC Cup: Sisi Rondina finds a way to deliver vs taller Australia

“Led by coaches and Ate Jia, we were able to do this despite the short time for preparation. We jelled well right away because we followed Ate Jia and the coaches.”

Fans of the Philippine team troop to Rizal Memorial Coliseum to watch Alas Pilipinas in the AVC Challenge Cup 2024. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

The Philippines actually led in the opening frame before Australia launched a 7-1 run to steal the set and give its side the lead. But Alas refused to be embarrassed in front of a lot of Filipinos present and executed their strategy much better in the following sets.

Rondina, Vanie Gandler, who played off the bench, and Laure powered a run late in the second frame before Gagate leveled the game at one set apiece.

And it was all about Alas Pilipinas from there on, leading  17-8 at one point in the deciding frame.

Canino, Laure and Rondina committed errors down the stretch that allowed Australia to narrow the margin to 21-18 but Sharma scored two quick attacks and Rondina a crucial block to bring Alas to the match point.

Australia saw some opening after the Akari middle blocker launched a service error and team captain Mikaela Stevens scored one on Laure, but Rondina hammered an emphatic cross-court kill to seal the result.

“I feel like we were just all excited to show what we can do and I also wasn’t expecting this outcome given our short preparation time,” Sharma said as they try to gain a piece of the lead facing India next on Friday.

“But I am happy that the team achieved this win today,” Sharma added.

Kara Inskip was the only Australian to reach double digits and paced her squad with 12 points.