KUALA LUMPUR: The Philippines suffered a sorry 24-26, 12-25, 23-25 setback to Vietnam, making it more difficult to win the title in the 29th Southeast Asian Games women’s volleyball tournament.
After an impressive straight-set win over Malaysia, the Filipina spikers looked sluggish as they fell into a maze of errors early on, allowing the Vietnamese to establish momentum and seal the victory Friday at the MITEC Hall 11 here.
With the setback, the Nationals will be facing Thailand in the semifinals on Saturday.
The Thais, who are looking for their 13th straight gold medal, would be dangerous foes as they are coming fresh from competing in the FIVB World Grand Prix and the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship, where they came up with a bridesmaid finish next to Japan.
A loss would relegate the Filipinos to the battle for bronze medal against the loser in the other semifinal battle between Indonesia and Vietnam.
Head coach Francis Vicente said the setback to Vietnam shouldn’t dampen their spirit in achieving their goal of making it back to the medal podium after a 12-year absence.
“This is just a minor setback. We will keep on fighting,” said Vicente, whose wards clobbered the Vietnamese in four sets in the Asian tourney last month in Binan City.
Star spikers Alyssa Valdez and Jaja Santiago combined for 21 points for the Filipinos, who led by six in the early stretch of the third set, 8-2, before the Vietnamese clawed their way back and turned it into an exciting battle.
Tran Thi Thanh Thuy delivered 19 points while seasoned middle blocker Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hoa added 11 markers for Vietnam, which took advantage of the 28 errors that the Philippines committed.