It is almost two weeks of contest now for the 2018 Asian Games, and thus far bright spots have been few and far between. Even as Hidilyn Diaz got Gold in the women’s weightlifting competition and the taekwondo participants made decent Bronze showings, many other athletes and teams in the Philippine national delegation have either suffered defeats that put them down the bracket, or have been eliminated entirely. Much has been said of the hard-fought basketball battle between Gilas and China with the latter narrowly winning. It was therefore such as relief on Thursday when the women’s volleyball team triumphed.
ABS-CBN News tells it that the Philippine national women’s volleyball team finally scored their first victory in the Asian Games at Jakarta-Palembang this Thursday, August 23. In beating Hong Kong they also made history and – in a fashion – removed one of the Philippine national team curses. This makes it the first time Filipina volleyball players won a match in the games after 36 years and nine Asiads. It served as a testimony to the skills and strengths of the team roster, many of them being a who’s who of the best college players from the two major Philippine athletic associations.
Leading the women’s volleyball team through this game against Hong Kong is the national power twosome of Jaja Santiago and Alyssa Valdez. They have only one objective, to finally win following consecutive beatings from Japan and Thailand. Granted, Hong Kong was no volleyball power of renown, but for the nationals, there were no taking chances as the two teams faced off at the GOR Bulungan, Jakarta. With the hopes of their countrymen on their backs the women’s team went in guns blazing. Valdez, Kim Kianna Dy, and Aby Maraño secured an early match lead by easily winning the first set.
It was then Santiago’s turn along with Mika Reyes to present both stout defense and unrelenting offense to ensure the Philippines took set 2 as well. While Hong Kong managed a few back due to unavoidable misses, they proved no contest. The nationals won via 3-set sweep: 25-18, 25-21, 25-22.
With that Alyssa Valdez and her buddies ended a long Asian Games women’s volleyball drought for the country. The last Philippine victory in that field happened in the 1982 Asiad in New Delhi, India. In a field of only six teams the nationals, 3-SEA Games veterans, finished in fifth place. Their present-day counterparts will now try to keep the drought at bay by facing Indonesia this Saturday, August 24, with Hong Kong next playing Thailand.
Image courtesy of Inquirer Sports