MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine women’s volleyball team almost completed a massive comeback to win its first Southeast Asian Games medal in 14 years against Indonesia on Monday, December 9.
Key word being “almost.”
After the Filipinas came a point away from victory at the PhilSports Arena against the 2017 silver medalists, the Indonesians did the improbable and stole the match with a stunning 4-0 finishing kick. (READ: Indonesia deals PH volleyball one last heartbreak in 5-set bronze finish)
Regardless of the heartbreaking sequence of events that unfolded before the home crowd’s eyes, the national team still fought back from a 15-25 3rd set and pushed the Indonesians to the brink of losing for good.
But during that magical rally, team star Alyssa Valdez was notably missing from the floor and never left the bench since the 3rd frame despite already having 14 points.
The 26-year-old veteran, however, took the sudden benching in stride and instead heaped praises on the timely takeover of substitutes Mika Reyes, Eya Laure, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rhea Dimaculangan.
“Well, I’m very happy for the team, really happy for everyone who was delivering,” she said after the game. “Really happy that we’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”
“I think yung mga decision ni coach Shaq [Delos Santos], siguro nakita niya, nabasa niya kung ano yung mga kailangang gawin ng team at kung ano yung kailangan naming i-adjust. It was a great adjustment from coach Shaq.”
(I think with coach Shaq’s decisions, he saw and read what the team needed to do and what we need to adjust.)
Valdez also harbored no ill will about her benching as her replacements almost got the job done anyway.
“It’s the decision of our coaches. Feeling ko mas nakikita nila kung ano yung mga kailangan ng team. So ‘yun yung best decision na nangyari,” she continued. “Maganda rin naman hanggang dulo, lumaban din naman yung team.”
(It’s the decision of our coaches. I feel like they could see what the team needs, so that’s the best decision that happened. It was great until the end anyway. The team really fought.)
“I feel regretful of course. When you’re outside, you can’t contribute anything. You really just have to pray and really believe. That’s it, but honestly, I’m really happy with everyone’s performances.”
The Philippines ultimately finished as the sole team in the four-team field without a medal, continuing its bad streak for two more years after this edition of the biennial meet.
“Like what was said earlier, if it’s not for us, if it’s not our time, it’s not our time,” Valdez said. – Rappler.com