OSAKA, Japan – The national women’s volleyball team gained a neat lesson in toughness and composure as it absorbed a five-set loss to Kobe Shinwa Women’s University, 25-19, 17-25, 25-18, 23-25, 8-15, in another friendly match late Friday here.
The Nationals gamely challenged the home squad early on before head coach Francis Vicente expertly shuffled his players to identify the weak and strong rotations in the squad that is preparing for the 19th Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games next month.
Vicente said the friendly match ultimately served its purpose as he was able to experiment and apply the lessons they learned from noted Japanese mentor Akiyoshi Kawamoto and the elite Okayama City Seagulls in the first leg of this grueling 17-day training camp.
Jaja Santiago had another remarkable offensive effort as she delivered 16 kills and a block for 17 points while Alyssa Valdez chipped in 13 kills and two blocks for 15 markers for the Nationals, who showed traces of improvement in their blocking, floor defense and chemistry on the floor.
Veteran Jovelyn Gonzaga also played well, finishing with 12 kills while Kim Fajardo had five kills, an ace and 37 excellent sets.
“We may have lost the match, but I still like what I saw,” said Vicente, noting that his wards managed to keep the match close despite the solid performance of the Japanese and his decision to tinker with his rotation late in the game.
“We know that Kobe Shinwa is a very tough team. It plays fast and aggressive. The mere fact that we were able to match their speed and discipline is already a positive development.”
Kobe Shinwa coach Kiyokazu Yamamoto said the Filipinos are already improving.
Kobe Shinwa copped the crown after winning of all of its matches in the most prestigious women’s club league in the county.
“Your team played really well,” Yamamoto told Vicente during the dinner hosted by Japanese coaches. “You must have learned a lot from coach Kawamoto because I see improvement in your blocking and defense. There are only some minor lapses, but you can work it out as you go along with the program.”
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