Pinay spikers blow big lead, yield to Aussies

MANILA, Philippines — Team Philippines blew a two-set lead and crumbled in the stretch with erratic receptions and foiled attacks, yielding a painful 25-21, 25-21, 24-26, 16-25, 10-15 decision to Australia in the opener of the AVC Asian Cup at the Korat Chatchai Hall in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand yesterday.

Just when they thought they had the taller, heftier Aussies’ numbers after taking the first two sets, the Filipinas missed wrapping it up in a frenetic endgame battle in the third frame and got clobbered by their rivals’ strong finishing kick in the last two sets.

They actually shrugged off a shaky start in the decider and took an 8-6 lead on an Alyssa Valdez hit and Australia’s net violation. But the Aussies came out of the last technical timeout an organized lot, scoring two quick points on a dump and an off-the-block hit to draw level.

But not even a Phl timeout could slow down the Aussies, who strung up six more unanswered points, including two blocks and a couple of aces as the Filipinos cracked trying to stop their rivals’ unrelenting charge.

Maika Ortiz and Mylene Paat broke the spell with back-to-back hits but the Aussies clinched the victory as Paat’s down-the-line attack went long.

It was a sorry setback indeed for Team Phl, which showed so much class and fighting spirit in rallying from early deficits to snare the first two sets behind Valdez, Aby Maraño, Paat, Ortiz, Julia Morado, Cha Cruz, Grethcel Soltones, Aiza Maizo, Mel Gohing and Denden Lazaro.

The Phl, which also lost to Australia in four sets the last time they faced in the AVC Asian Championship in 2015, tries to rebound against Iran today in Pool C.