By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Philippine Women’s national volleyball team kicked off their 2022 Southeast Asian Games with a convincing three-set sweep of Malaysia, 25-14, 25-20, 25-15, held at the Dai Yen Arena in Quang Ninh in Vietnam.
It was a flawless offensive outing for the Filipinas despite having limited time to gain chemistry during their training camp after blasting the Malaysians in the very first set.
Jaja Santiago’s superb middle-blocking and consistent pick-ups during their quick 1-2 plays propelled the PHL to a hot start.
However, things went shaky during the second set after the Filipinas gave up their 8-1 lead giving the Malaysians a window of opportunity to regain momentum and the advantage, 15-18.
Just when the situation got close for the national team, the duo of Ces Molina and Mylene Paat sparked an offensive rally that ignited a 10-2 run to close out the second set and grab the much-needed momentum heading into the final set.
It was all PHL in the closing set as Santiago, Molina, and Paat continued their offensive explosion to help the national team go up with a 1-0 record.
Aside from the dynamic trio, Choco Mucho’s opposite spiker and former Ateneo Blue Eagles superstar Kat Tolentino also delivered when her number got called.
Tolentino spearheaded a mini-run of her own during the crucial stretch of the second set when the Filipinas were playing catch-up.
The PHL lead ballooned to as much as 13 points in the last set, 18-5, and didn’t give any chances for the Malaysian team to come back and mount a rally.