MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine women’s national team wrapped up its campaign in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference on a high note, as they dominated Smart-Army in straight sets on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Despite playing with a depleted roster, the Nationals still had more than enough for a 25-16, 25-17, 25-17 triumph over the Giga Hitters.
With the result, the national team completed a three-game sweep of its assignment in the Invitational Conference without dropping a single set.
Less than half of the 20 players in the pool showed up for the Nationals in their previous games, but they still managed to pull off convincing wins over Cocolife, Cignal, and Smart-Army.
“We’re happy with the performances of the team,” said coach Shaq delos Santos. “We haven’t trained yet, and we’re always incomplete during games.”
“We’re not so prepared for the Invitationals, but we’re so proud because all the players who played performed their best,” he added.
“Hopefully, this is the start of the good relationship of the team.”
After easily taking the first two sets, the Nationals squandered an 8-4 start in the third set allowing the Giga Hitters to nail 11 of the next 13 points for a 15-10 spread and preserved it to a 17-14 cushion.
But the Nationals refused to panic as they answered back with 11 straight points to end the match in 71 minutes.
Jaja Santiago led the way for the national team with 15 points on 12 kills on top of seven excellent receptions.
Mylene Paat, MJ Phillips and Maika Ortiz chipped in seven points apiece for the Nationals, who also drew impressive numbers from Dindin Santiago-Manabat and CJ Rosario.
Playmaker Rebecca Rivera earned Player of the Game honors after tallying 23 excellent sets on top of nine digs and four points.
Libero Denden Lazaro was also instrumental, with 12 digs and seven excellent receptions.
Delos Santos added that although they are still far from their best form for the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia this August, they still gained a lot of experience from the PSL.
“We learned to accept whatever we have in each games and no matter what happens. The players learned to adjust even we’re not complete,” he said.
Nobody scored in double figures for Smart-Army with Nene Bautista and Luthgarda Malaluan leading the way with eight and seven points, respectively.
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