BINAN, Laguna— Foton Pilipinas held its ground in the first two sets, but a vastly experienced China Ba’Yi Shenzheng side still prevailed, 25-16, 25-18, 25-14, Friday in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Asian Women’s Club Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan City.
Lindsay Stalzer and Jaja Santiago led the Tornadoes’ bid to keep up with their Chinese rivals with nine and seven points during their 69-minute encounter.
But, Liu Yanhan, an open spiker, who was adjudged as the most valuable player in the Asian U23 Women’s Championship last year in Manila, proved to be more productive.
She delivered 19 points to lead the Chinese spikers to the semifinals with NEC Red Rockets of Japan, which turned back Taipei T Grand, 25-6, 25-23, 25-13.
Also coming up big were Chen Yao, who had 12, and the duo of Wang Yunlu and Wang Qi with 11 each.
“We played well today. We prepared. Every game is hard,” said Chen, the team skipper.
The Chinese played the Filipinas to a 3-all deadlock when Liu’s long placement shot went out of bounds.
Afterwards, Liu redeemed herself after she, and teammate Wang and Chen began finding ways to avoid the Tornadoes’ frontline blockers to their crosscourt spikes. They eventually took the upperhand, 6-3, off Chen’s drop shot.
An 8-4 edge came China’s way following Chen’s hit off Stalzer’s block, and Jovelyn Gonzaga’s net miscue. Chen then got past Stalzer’s block again, allowing China to gain more distance, 12-7.
Chinese coach Yu Juemin commended the Filipinas for playing good in the first and second sets.
And now they look forward to their semifinal game, taking on the winner of the Kazakhstan-Altay and Iran-Sarmayeh Bank match. The loser of the Kazakh-Iranian clash meets the Tornadoes in a fight for fifth to eight places.
Tornadoes’ coach Fabio Menta said playing China was like playing the Japan NEC Red Rockets, who were visibly playing a notch higher.
“Making the semifinals was more of a dream. We have players who were together for a short time,” said Menta, who said the Tornadoes were able to show good blocking against China.
“The sure thing we got in this game was the blocking. We got the best blockers. That’s a great thing. Great effort from the girls,” added Menta as the Tornadoes get ready to fight for fifth place.