China survives scare from brave Philippines, makes Asian Under-23 volleyball semifinals
Alyssa Valdez drives a spike past a China block. Dante Peralta

CHINA overcame a first-set loss against an audacious Philippine side, posting a 23-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-17 victory to reach the semifinals of the 2015 Asian Under-23 Women’s Volleyball Championship.

The hosts gave the Chinese more than they could handle in the opening minutes, dealing the top seeds only their third loss of a set in the tournament and thrilling the home crowd at the Philsports Arena.

But China, led by world championship veteran Liu Yanhan, regained its bearings and imposed its will in the final three sets to relegate the Philippines to the classification round for fifth to eight places.

“We were the smallest, inexperienced team,” national coach Roger Gorayeb said. “Siguro ‘yung China, nagulat na naglaro tayo ng ganun kaganda.”

In the semifinals, the Chinese will face Korea, the only team other than the Philippines to take a set against them so far, while the hosts take on Chinese Taipei in a rematch after their second-round face-off won by the Taiwanese. 

China decided not to put Liu in the starting six and paid for it as Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago, Myla Pablo, and Riza Sato led an inspired start that had the crowd on its feet.

Valdez scored a team-high 17 points while Santiago finished with her tournament-best 16 points for the Pinay spikers. Pablo added 11 points for the Philippines.

Liu scored a match-high 21 points for China as a substitute but admitted they had little preparation against the Philippines.

“We didn’t have enough to prepare. They did very well on their home court,” Liu said.

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