The Philippines, represented by Ateneo de Manila University, opened its 17th ASEAN University Games campaign with aplomb, dispatching Malaysia in four sets Tuesday afternoon at the Palembang Sport and Convention Center.
The Lady Eagles displayed their overpowering offense, with Alyssa Valdez leading the way in the 25-21, 25-18, 15-25, 25-8 victory in their qualification round matchup.
Valdez had 20 points all off kills while rookie Bea de Leon had 12 markers off 11 hits and a block as the Philippine representatives made noise early.
Ateneo and Malaysia exchanged fire in a tense first-set battle before the Lady Eagles zoomed to a relatively easier 25-18 second set win.
Pulling their feet off the gas pedal, the Katipunan spikers were caught napping in the third, as the Malaysians pounced on the unsuspecting Filipinas to inch closer by a set, 25-15.
But Ateneo got its act together in the fourth and totally overpowered Malaysia en route to a dominant 25-8 victory.
Ella de Jesus added eight points in the win even as setter Jia Morado orchestrated the Lady Eagles’ attack while also serving up two blocks and two aces.
Bnti Ariffin Nuraini led Malaysia with 16 points off 11 kills, three blocks and two aces while Mei Yan Lee chipped in with 11 points highlighted by six hits and five blocks, but the Malaysians could not overcome the 30 unforced errors they committed.
The Filipina spikers will face Indonesia at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
After a one-day rest Thursday, Team-UAAP Philippines will take on Thailand on Friday before wrapping up its preliminaries assignments against Singapore on Saturday.
With the Thais dominating the Singaporeans in the opener, the Filipina spikers have a strong chance in achieving a podium finish.
Thailand, which finished second in 2012, is tipped to win the event as it boasts of three former guest players in the Philippine club leagues in Lek Thipachot, Soraya Phomla and Wanida Kotruang.
Aside from the women’s volleyball squad, the 86-man Team UAAP-Philippines will also compete in swimming, taekwondo, athletics and table tennis.
By amassing two golds, 12 silvers and 16 bronzes two years ago in Laos, the PH student-athletes finished seventh in the biennial meet organized by the Asean University Sports Council.
The Team UAAP-Philippines golden finishes came from taekwondo jins Christian Al dela Cruz and Ernest John Mendoza of University of Santo Tomas.
Malaysia claimed the overall title two years ago with a 60-45-70 haul, followed by Vietnam (56-35-28) and 2010 champion Thailand (42-51-55).
Indonesia wound up fourth (41-52-57), followed by host Laos (30-34-44) and Singapore (3-6-23).
Since the inauguration of the AUG in 1981, Indonesia emerged overall champion for a record 10 times, followed by Thailand (three), Malaysia (two) and Vietnam (one).
National University’s Nilo Ocampo is the delegation’s chef de mission along with Ateneo’s Em Fernandez, Timmy Sto. Tomas and Joselito Urian.
The 11-day conclave will end on Dec. 19.
Sources : Rivals.ph and Philstar.com