By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
After a slow start in the tournament with back-to-back losses, the Philippine women’s volleyball team rediscovered its top form and clinched a seat in the quarterfinal round of the 2022 PNVF AVC Cup after prevailing over South Korea, 25-18, 25-13, 25-17.
It was all team Philippines from the get-go as their oozing confidence from their huge win against Iran helped them maintain their offensive consistency.
PHL’s most consistent outside hitter, Jema Galanza, showed no signs of fatigue after leading the squad with 12 big points.
With Korea keeping themselves within striking distance midway in the first set, Galanza uncorked a personal scoring run that capped off a 6-1 finish.
PHL continued its fluid offensive attack and abused Korea’s disoriented middle blockers led by Tots Carlos who came alive in the much-needed stretch of the second set.
Carlos was a point shy of tying Galanza scoring output and ended the knockout match with 11 points built from solid dishes from superstar setter Jia Morado-De Guzman.
De Guzman’s crisp ball distribution led to PHL’s balanced attack and made sure she knew where Galanza, Carlos, and Michele Gumabao were at all times before throwing her sets.
One factor that also boosted team PHL during the win was their repeated domination in the blocking department led by Jeanette Panaga and Ced Domingo.
The duo spearheaded PHL’s total blocks to 12 and played a major role during the third and final set when the Koreans mounted a late run.
“Siyempre masaya kami kasi nakapasok kami sa quarterfinals. Hopefully, gumanda pa yung performance namin, meron pa namang one-day preparation,” said Philippines head coach Sherwin Meneses.