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Monday, June 24, 2024

Historic win for Alas Pilipinas

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For 92 minutes, Alas Pilipinas maintained control, capitalizing on Iran’s errors to secure a swift three-set victory, 25-16, 25-13, 25-15, in a historic encounter at the 2024 Asian Volleyball Confederation Challenge Cup for Women on a rainy Saturday night at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila, in front of a large and supportive crowd. 

The victory marked a milestone for Philippine volleyball, as no Filipina squad had ever reached the semifinals of the tournament since its inception in 2018.

 Angel Canino led the Filipinas with 16 points, propelling the team to their third consecutive triumph in Pool A. Aytak Salamat scored 10 points for the Iranians. “We controlled our side. You see, they played hard,” said Alas Pilipinas coach Jorge Souza de Brito.

Sisi Rondina contributed 12 points, helping the Filipinas take charge from the start, quickly moving ahead by five points, 7-2, following a powerful smash from Fifi Sharma on the left side.

Vanessa Gandler added nine points for the world No. 62 Alas Pilipinas, who now seek to sweep Group A in their upcoming Sunday evening match against Chinese Taipei.

“Even though they played like this, Iran is a tough team,” remarked de Brito, noting that Iran committed 11 crucial errors throughout the game.

The Filipinas dominated early in the first set with strong kills from Sharma and Rondina on the left side of the net.

In the second set, a pair of aces from Canino and poor reception from the Iranians allowed the Filipinas to extend their lead to 8-4.

Jia Morado-de Guzman’s two aces at the start of the third set gave the Filipinas a 4-0 lead, which they expanded to 8-2 with Sharma’s frontline plays. Rondina’s defensive efforts further solidified their advantage, pushing them to an 8-3 lead.

Earlier in the day, Australia improved its chances of advancing to the semifinals by narrowly defeating India in a thrilling match, 26-24, 25-16, 19-25, 29-27.

Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Ramon “Tats” Suzara emphasized the significance of Alas Pilipinas’ achievement, noting that this is the first time any Philippine team—of any gender—has ever made it to the semifinals of an AVC competition.

Australia, now 2-1, holds solo second place in Pool A, while India finished their Pool A play at 2-2. India’s fate now hinges on Australia’s match against Iran, scheduled for tomorrow at 4 p.m.

A service ace by Lauren Cox put the Volleyroos at match point, 24-22, before Shaalini Saravanan scored back-to-back points to extend the fourth set to a 24-all tie. Ella Schabort’s off-the-block hit, followed by a miscommunication between India’s setter Jini Kovat Shaji and middle blocker Soorya Soorya, secured Australia’s victory in two hours and five minutes.

Caitlin Tipping delivered 19 attacks, four blocks, and four aces, while Schabort backed her up with 16 points off the bench.

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