THE Philippine team faces a tricky opening match against Hong Kong in the 19th AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship on Wednesday at Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna.
The Filipinas are eyeing quarterfinal finish in the 14-nation tournament and need to be in the top two of the three-team Pool A to advance.
Advancing to the last eight will also earn the Filipinas a spot in the AVC Asian Women’s Volleyball Cup next year.
Two years ago in the continental meet in China, the Filipinas had to fight back from two sets down to nip Hong Kong in the classification phase, winding up in 12th spot.
Coach Francis Vicente is bracing for a tight match, saying Hong Kong has improved but stressed he is very confident after the Philippine team underwent some “upgrading.”
“It’s a very important game for the Philippines especially if we want to enter the quarterfinals so we need to win against Hong Kong,” he said on Tuesday at Crimson Hotel in Alabang where the team is staying for the tournament.
“Oo, syempre pang morale-boosting (win) ’yun eh. Alam naman natin ang Hong Kong kahit papano naga-upgrade na rin ’yan eh, us also is upgrading already,” he added.
The Filipinas face Hong Kong at 6:00 p.m. after the opening ceremony.
On Friday they take on Kazakhstan, which rippedthe Philippines in straight sets in Tianjin two years ago.
“Pero I believe in the team itself, may pupuntahan kami tomorrow, ayaw ko lang magconclude pero I’m very confident na makakapasok tayo ng quarterfinals,” said Vicente.
The team led by skipper Mika Reyes, Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Aby Marano, Ces Molina, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Gen Casugod, Maika Ortiz, Kim Fajardo, Rhea Dimaculangan, Denden Lazaro, Kim Dy and Dawn Macandili is up for a tough challenge but Vicente is optimistic that with their preparation they can win the match against Hong Kong.
“Na-scout naman (ang Hong Kong) lahat naman 'yan pinag-aaralan eh. Recently may tournament sila so we saw them play and hopefully we can do fairly and win the game,” he said.