By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Philippine women’s volleyball team ended their 2023 Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup campaign with a seventh-place finish after a huge win against Uzbekistan last June 25, 2023, held in Gresik, Indonesia.
Laser-focused to notch their third win of the tournament and head back home with positive results, the Filipinas scored a four-set victory over Uzbekistan, 25-14, 13-25, 25-18, 25-18.
Former Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) superstar outside hitter Faith Nisperos made sure she’ll leave a lasting impression in Indonesia after leading the Filipinas with 17 big points built from 16 successful attacks.
The incoming Premier Volleyball League (PVL) rookie was automatic whenever the PHL squad ran the offense through her and punished the blockers of Uzbekistan with her crafty attacks.
Backstopping Nisperos during their last win was veteran spiker Shaya Adorador who contributed 13 points built from 14 successful attacks.
It was a dominant opening set for the Filipina spikers after holding Uzbekistan to under 15 points. Aside from committing fewer errors, team PHL also banked on their terrific floor defense that negated the opposition’s wide attacks.
However, Uzbekistan got back in the following set when they became more patient with their offense and settled for more drop balls than long spikes.
Just when Uzbekistan thought they could steamroll their way, the Filipinas showed quick adjustments and put more emphasis on their middle blocking which paved the way for the opening of their spikes.
Veteran leader and former national team staple Aiza Maizo-Pontillas also delivered when the team needed her the most after scoring crucial points in the fourth and final set that helped the PHL pull away.
Completing the cast of the most consistent players during the big win were Djanel Cheng, Ezra Madrigal, and Erika Raagas.