Mylene Paat made the most crucial play for the Philippines.
The opposite hitter literally sacrificed her body and forced Vietnam to commit an error that gave the Philippines the much-needed cushion in the closing moments of the fifth set to carve out a 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, 15-25, 15-12, win to bag the bronze medal in the inaugural ASEAN Grand Prix on Sunday at the Terminal 21 Mall in Nakhon Ratchasima.
The Nationals flirted with disaster after squandering a 2-1 match lead but made sure that the ghost of their five-set loss to Indonesia on Friday won’t haunt them back as they showed composure down the stretch.
Paat paced the Nationals with 22 points coming off 14 kills, four aces and four kill blocks but it was her presence of mind in the play that gave the PHI the match point that highlighted her impressive performance.
With the Vietnamese closing in 13-12, Paat dove for a dig to cover Kalei Mau’s attack and as she controlled her momentum, Vietnam's Than Thuy Tran touched the net while trying to avoid landing on the Filipina.
Vietnam called for a line crossing challenge but the PHI got away with the point as the replay showed that Paat was able to control her feet from crossing the line as Tran touched the net to control her landing.
Kalei Mau finished with 16 points, Ces Molina had 14 while Majoy Baron scored 13 markers including six of the Filipinas’ 16 kill blocks. Alohi Robins-Hardy posted nine points for the Nationals, who closed their campaign with a 1-2 slate.
The PHI held a 9-6 lead in the fifth set after a Jia Morado drop but the Vietnamese countered to tie the frame at 9. The Nationals again went up 12-10 before Vietnam locked it at 12.
Mau recovered from an earlier error with a kill before Paat’s heroics as Mau finished the Vietnamese off with a hammer.
Tran had 25 points including 22 from attacks while Kim Thanh Dang had 15 for Vietnam, which closed the first leg of the four-nation tournament without a win in three games.
The ASEAN GP will make its second stop in Sta. Rosa, Laguna from Oct. 4-6.
This story originally appeared on ABS-CBN Sports.