Alas Pilipinas AVC Cup Opener: Our Thoughts

Three Thoughts From Alas Pilipinas’ AVC Challenge Cup Win Over Australia

Alas Pilipinas’ 2024 AVC Challenge Cup campaign is off to a bang with a four-setter over Australia. Here’s what that triumph taught us. 

After a rather hectic buildup, Alas Pilipinas formally opened their 2024 AVC Challenge Cup campaign on Thursday against Australia. And save for some first set jitters, the Nationals downright dominated the Aussies 22-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-20 to ace their first assignment in the regional tilt. 

And on top of the dub, there’s plenty of things to love with this convincing victory. Here are a few of them. 

This squad may just peak at the right time. A major storyline for Alas Pilipinas was the lack of ample preparation time. As talented as the names are, it was hard to discount fears toward the potential lack of chemistry by the time the AVC Challenge Cup opened. 

Yet on Thursday, it was hard to believe that this squad had about a week or two to figure each other out. Likely due to her veteran smarts too, Jia de Guzman seemed to have figured out her spikers’ (and middle blockers’) preferences for one, while combination plays were executed to perfection. 

And while it took some time, there were flashes of great net defense led by twin towers Thea Gagate and Fifi Sharma. At times even, we saw rejections from Eya Laure, and player of the game Angel Canino. How could we forget the superb floor defense from Dawn Macandili-Catindig too right? 

With one game in the books, it’s safe to assume that Alas will only improve from here. Gone are the first game jitters, and these talented volleybelles finally have in-game experience with each other. 

A new (national) scoring trio? Alas Pilipinas’ AVC Challenge Cup opener saw three names take over the scoring department in Angel Canino, Sisi Rondina, and Eya Laure. Eya and Angel notched 17 points apiece, while Sisi contributed 16 of her own. 

Most notable, of course, are Angel and Sisi, who are national team debutants. And if you saw them on Thursday, it was hard to believe that these ladies were first timers in indoor national team play. 

Sisi of course, had previously cut her teeth in beach volleyball play in terms of national team appearances.

Wala akong ibang ginawa kundi tumulong. And syempre, sobrang unexpected ng performance ko kanina kasi syempre known ang Australia na may mga height talaga and sabi ko nga, paano ko kaya papalusutin ‘tong bola. Pero ayun, nahanapan naman nang paraan at naitawid naman kanina,” Rondina said after the game.

Rizal Memorial may be small, but…The historic Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Malate is the sole venue of this year’s AVC Challenge Cup. 

It’s only a 6,000-seater arena, but don’t get it twisted: the place was (expectedly) rocking whenever Alas made some killer spikes, and monster blocks throughout the four-set domination. 

While it’s no MOA Arena, Araneta, or even Philsports, the 4,945 strong crowd (per the PNVF) was more than enough to capture the newfound love Pinoys have for volleyball. 

“Grabe, grabe talaga! Puno talaga ‘to [Rizal Memorial] na mga Pilipino tapos nakikita ko na nageeffort din, sumisigaw, so grabe! Sobrang overwhelming ng feeling tapos sobrang happy ko kasi we’re all Filipinos here and we’re here to support each other kasi,” an enthusiastic Canino told reporters post-game.

Up next for Alas Pilipinas will be India. Hopefully their hot start can be maintained come first serve on Friday. 

Banner Image courtesy of the Asian Volleyball Confederation. 

Alas Pilipinas Is Here: The Star-Studded Lineup For The 2024 AVC Challenge Cup

A Wiser Jia de Guzman Returns from Japan to Carry the Philippine Flag Once More

‘We’re Here to Give It Our All’: Angel Canino Adds National Team Appearance to Her Early Career Highs