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Philippines pushes South Korea, falls in straight sets

With their opponents expecting an easy outing, the Philippines pushed world-power South Korea into an uncomfortable corner but still fell in straight sets, 23-25, 19-25, 11-25, in the second round of the AVC Senior Women’s Championship in the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.

The Koreans started off with nerves of steel, weathering the Philippines’ strong start and the ruckus crowd. Korea had nearly silenced the audience, taking a 24-19 lead. The hosts, however, refused to go down easily. With Aby Maraño hopping off the bench and providing two aces, the Pinays rattled off a 5-0 run. Having planned to keep their 2012 Olympics MVP on the bench for the match, the Koreans were forced to bring in Kim Yeon Koung just to get them out of the first set without going through a deuce.

The Philippines’ strong showing did not relent in the second set. With Jaja Santiago getting her attacks going, the Philippines stole a 14-11 lead. Still affected by the ear-rattling cheers of the home crowd, Korea was again forced to bring Yeoun Koung just to keep them afloat. With arguably the best player in the world on the court, the Koreans grabbed the momentum, establishing a 19-14 cushion and never looking back.

In the third set, Yeoun Koung started her first frame of the tournament. KYK’s presence had both an intangible and tangible effect on the match, as she scored at will and deflated the spirits of the hosts. Korea raced to a 16-8 and sealed the win early.

“Hindi tayo victorious sa game pero victorious tayo as a threat. It’s a very big morale-booster na ipinasok ang one of the world’s best attacker[s],” said National Team head coach Francis Vicente. “Siguro may threat ‘yung team, nakita nila palaban ang Pilipino so para sa akin don’t underestimate the Philippine team.”

Jaja Santiago led the Philippines with 10 points, while Alyssa Valdez and Jovelyn Gonzaga provided seven points apiece.

Yang Hyojin topped all scorers with 13 points. KYK finished the match with 12 points on a nine-for-12 attacking clip.

The Philippines, dropping to 0-2 in Pool E, will next play Southeast Asia neighbors Vietnam tomorrow.

The Scores

South Korea (3) – Yang 13, Kim Y.K. 12, Kim H. 11, Hwang 7, Park 6, Kim. M. 5, Kim Y. 3, Lee 0, Na (L)

Philippines (0) – Santiago 10, Gonzaga 7, Valdez 7, Fajardo 5, Maraño 4, Reyes 4, Fajardo 1, Molina 1, Lazaro (L), Macandili (L)