While the pre-opening sporting events that the host country Philippines participated in on this 2019 Southeast Asian Games were more hit-and-miss in terms of public attention (as none of them were for medals yet), after the ceremony played out last Saturday and the massive national delegation paraded at the rear of the other participating nations, victory seemingly just came easy. In a stunning display for all Filipinos, the country’s athletes snatched up gold medals at crazy speed across a wide range of events. The silver and bronze counts were not too shabby either. But a medal rush does not mean Team Philippines has become invincible.
This was demonstrated at a humbling encounter between the women’s indoor volleyball team and their Vietnamese counterparts this evening of Tuesday, December 3 according to The Philippine Star. The squad was already made up of the best names from the UAAP league, led by two of the nation’s volleyball divas in Jovelyn Gonzaga and Alyssa Valdez. But their first game for the 2019 SEA Games versus Vietnam ended in disaster after a strong Set 1 start and a spirited Set 4 comeback. Ultimately they lost their intro in five: 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 25-20, and 8-15.
Even with the great team roster, the Philippines knew they were up against a challenge with the Vietnamese squad which won SEA Games Bronze back in 2017. Nevertheless, Valdez and Gonzaga rallied their teammates to take the first set without much trouble. Vietnam however equalized in set 2 despite three spirited set point saves by the Filipinas, thanks to the prowess of their ace Tran Thi Thanh Thuy or “T4.” The real trouble began when Vietnam sank six successive points without answer on set 3, making for their biggest lead over the Philippines in the whole game. An unfortunate net touch from the Vietnamese helped secure Set 4 for the host team, but come the shorter set 5, the staunch opposing defense has sapped the Filipinas leading to their defeat.
It was a dash of cold water to the Philippines after their gold medal streak in this year’s SEA Games in general. With a 0-1 WL record, the squad’s troubles have only begun, as they are up against the Thailand Juggernaut on Thursday, December 5.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN Sports