JAKARTA: The Philippines formally made its return but was given a rude welcome by old rival Thailand, 22-25, 12-25, 25-15, at the start of women’s volleyball action in the 18th Asian Games at the Gelura Bung Karno Volleyball Hall.
Star spikers Chatchu-on Moksri and Pimpichaya Kokram did the damage, leaving the Filipinos battered in the second and third sets en route to the Thais’ first win in the Games.
The 19-year old Moksri delivered an all-around performance with 10 kills, three aces and two blocks for 15 points while Pimpichaya added 13 kills for Thailand, which is looking to bounce back from a bronze-medal finish in the Incheon edition of the Asian Games in 2014.
Team captain Pleumjit Thinkaow had 10 points while global superstar Nootsara Tomkom saw very limited minutes as the Thais prepare for the big guns in reigning champion South Korea, China and Japan in the next few days.
Alyssa Valdez starred with seven hits while Jaja Santiago had six markers for the Filipinos, who are making a return to the Asian Games for the first time since competing in the New Delhi edition in 1982.
The Nationals, actually, had a hot start with a 9-2 lead off the strong services of Santiago, but collapsed down the stretch as Kokram, Moksri and Thinkaow buckled down to work.
“We need a lot of experience in this kind of high level tournament,” said head coach Shaq Delos Santos following the match that lasted for one hour and 12 minutes.
“We had a good first set, but we struggled with errors, especially in our services and receptions, in the second and third set that led to our collapse.”
Delos Santos said the experience they gained from this tournament is very crucial to their bid of putting the squad back in the international volleyball map.
“This is a good experience for us because we experienced how it feels playing against an elite team like Thailand. We realized that we can win over them, but we’re still in the process of rebuilding and hopefully our performance improves as we go along.”
The Nationals will go against Thailand on Tuesday before squaring off with Hong Kong on Thursday and Indonesia on Saturday.
“Hopefully, our performance will improve,” Delos Santos said. “We will train hard because we know Japan is a super power in volleyball.”
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