Team Philippines came off the gates with fire in its eyes, but unfortunately lost steam only after the second set to yield to Australia Sunday night in the opener of the AVC Asian Cup women’s championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
With Alyssa Valdez and Aby Marano at the helm, the Filipinas played at full speed and power to stun the Australians in the first two frames but failed to adjustments when the taller, stronger enemy made its move en route to a 21-25, 21-25, 26-24, 25-16, 15-10 come-from-behind triumph.
The Philippines, ranked 79th in the world, shocked the world No. 42 with off-tangent shots coming from different directions to put the Australian defense in disarray.
Quickly, the Filipinos were just a set away from its biggest victory ever since they returned to the world stage.
But it wasn’t meant to be as the Australians, led by Rachel Rourke, their souped up version of the Philippines’ superstar Valdez, made her moves from behind the net hitting and blocking to snatch the third set.
By that time, the Australians already knew where the shots are coming, and started blockage on Valdez’s firing line, scoring six blocks in the fourth.
There were no counter-adjustments on the part of Philippine bench even as Australia took control of the match.
Instead, the Filipinos abandoned net defense and relied on floor coverage which proved no match against the power of Rourke as Australia dragged the match to full distance.
And with Marano sitting on the bench for way too long, the Philippines threw away running attacks and decided to live by the open hitters.
Valdez tried to lead an uprising for the FIlipinos, hitting an ace and firing another hit for an 8-6 lead in the fifth until the 6-foot-4 Rourke fired away and the flank and service line for the upset win.
The Philippines will take on Iran on Monday.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.