MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine women's national volleyball team had the perfect ending set up: forcing a fifth against a taller, more powerful Vietnam squad thanks to key adjustments and head's up play.
Vietnam and titanic open hitter Tran Thi Than Thuy, however, were just too much for the hosts to overcome, as the Philippines surrendered a heart-breaking five-setter, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 8-15.
Anchored on solid defense at the net and the floor, the Philippines opened the match splendidly, with middle blocker Majoy Baron capping the frame with a thunderous block.
Vietnam blocks and Tran kills dictated the next two sets. Starting Jia Morado and Maddie Madayag gave the hosts life in the fourth set with the pair of former Ateneo stars guiding the Philippines to a decider.
The final set was close, until Vietnam went on a blocking tear and built a 13-6 lead, sealing the win.
Tran led Vietnam with a splendid effort of 27 points, 13 digs, and 13 receptions. Thi Xuan Nguyen added 15 markers, and Thi Nga Bui had 14 points.
Alyssa Valdez led the Philippines with 22 points and 13 receptions, while Jovelyn Gonzaga put up 12 points and 11 digs. Majoy Baron scored 3 of her 10 points off blocks.
The Pinays' shot at SEA Games gold comes down to beating world power Thailand and their tested veteran core. A win against them on Thursday and Indonesia on Saturday set the hosts up for the best chance at entering the gold medal match.
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