BINAN CITY, Laguna –-- The Philippines gave Thailand a hard time in the first set.
That proved to be the host team’s last hurrah.
Powerhouse Thailand showed the Philippines and the home crowd that filled the Alonte Sports Arena here that it is still the Southeast Asian volleyball giant, defeating the host team, 25-21, 25-14, 25-20, in the knockout quarterfinals Tuesday night.
The Thais advanced in the semifinals of the 19th AVC Asian Senior Women's Volleyball Championship, while relegating the Philippines to the classification round for 5th and 8th spot.
Thailand will face South Korea in the Final Four Wednesday. The Filipinas will square off with Chinese-Taipei in the classification round.
The defending 10-time Southeast Asian Games champion Thailand pounced on the sluggish play of the Filipinas midway in the second set, breaking away from a slim 8-7 lead to build an 18-11 cushion. With Alyssa Valdez and Jaja Santiago showing frustration in the second frame, the Thais cruised to a 7-3 closing run for a 2-0 match lead.
Philippine head coach Francis Vicente shuffled his lineup to get the right combination in the third, bringing in skipper Mika Reyes and Gen Casugod, who both skipped the squad’s four-set upset against 2015 SEA Games silver medalist Monday, but to no avail as Thailand proved to be too strong for the host team.
The Thais, who were coming off a stint in the 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix, sent in its strongest players to start the match with Pleumjit Thinkaow, Hattaya Bamrungsuk, Wilavan Apinyapong, Chatchu-on Moksri and Tomkom Nootsara, showing respect to a team fresh from an upset.
The Filipinas kept the game close until midway in the opening frame and even held a 17-16 lead only to see the Thais counter with a 5-1 rally for a 22-18 advantage.
Lucky breaks favored the Thais in the succeeding plays as Thailand sealed the set with Wilavan scoring.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.