Phl spikers escape Aussies, near fifth

The national women’s team overcame gritty Australia as it booked a thrilling 21-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-18, 15-12 victory in the classification phase of the Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup for Women yesterday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

The National had to overcome a lethargic opening set before holding their ground in the decider to complete the escape that gave them a chance to grab the fifth spot of this prestigious continental tournament.

They will see action in the battle for fifth at 1 p.m. on Monday against a Chinese Taipei squad that is fresh from a 25–23, 25–19, 25–17 demolition of Iran in the other classification encounter.

Should the Nationals win, the fifth place will mark as their best finish in any continental meet.

But against the No. 58 Australians branded as “Volleyroos,” the Filipinas had to dig deep into their bag of tricks before pulling off the five-set win in two hours and 31 minutes of action.

Composed of the core of Premier Volleyball League champion Creamline, the Nationals got their acts together in the fourth, unloading an 8-1 rally to force a deciding fifth set.

From a 12-all deadlock in the fifth, the Filipinas watched top gun Caitlin Tipping crumble under pressure with an attack error before Jeanette Panaga connected on a quick kill and Tots Carlos scored with an attack off the block to seal the victory.

Skipper Jia de Guzman said they gave their all, knowing that they have a golden opportunity to come up with a strong finish in this tourney where Asia’s best teams are seeing action.

“We were thinking about all the things we have been through to get to this point and not everyone gets this chance so we really gave our all,” said De Guzman, whose teammates took advantage of Australia’s 30 errors.

“Even if some of us have something bothering us, no one complained and everybody stepped up for their roles.”

Carlos erupted with 26 points built on 25 attacks and one kill block while Jema Galanza bounced back from a dismal performance against Thailand with an 18-point explosion for the Filipinas, who are competing without veteran international campaigner Alyssa Valdez.

Tipping fired 14 points, six blocks and five aces for the Volleyroos, who were relegated to the battle for seventh place against Iran at 10 a.m.

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