By Kristel Satumbaga
3:30 p.m. – Thailand vs Indonesia (W)
6 p.m. – Philippines vs Vietnam (W)
A huge crowd of supporter is expected when the Philippine women’s volleyball team begins its medal campaign in the 30th Southeast Asian Games today when it clashes with Vietnam at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
The match is at 6 p.m. with the celebrated Filipina spikers, made up of some of the most glamorous and talented volleybelles in the country, seeking a strong start.
Every match is crucial as far as the Nationals are concerned as there are only four nations participating: defending champion Thailand, 2017 Kuala Lumpur silver medalist Indonesia and bronze medalist Vietnam.
The PH team is optimistic it can make a podium finish and eclipse its fourth place performance in the previous edition. They also seek to end the country’s medal drought where they last won a bronze medal in the 2005 Manila edition.
The squad, handled by Petron Blaze coach Shaq delos Santos, spent 12 days in Tokyo playing local teams to hone their skills and strengthen their chemistry.
Also part of their training was the 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix held last month where the Nationals finished third on both legs in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand and Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Spearheading the team are captain Aby Maraño along with Alyssa Valdez, Kath Arado, Dawn Macandili, Ces Molina, Mylene Paat, Aiza Pontillas, Eya Laure, Majoy Baron, Jia Morado, Mika Reyes, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rhea Dimaculangan.
After Vietnam, the Nationals take on Thailand on Thursday, and Indonesia on Saturday.