May 14 ------ Save for mishaps in the second set, the Philippine Women’s National Volleyball Team opened its 31st Southeast Asian Games campaign on a high note, sweeping Malaysia, 25-14, 25-20, and 25-15, Friday at the Đại Yên Arena in Quang Ninh, Vietnam.
Jaja Santiago was on a whole other level in the contest. Santiago could not be hindered by the Malaysian blockers while also displaying excellent net defense all throughout. Also impressive was Kyle Negrito as she steered the national team to its first win in the biennial meet since 2017.
After a dominant first set, the Filipinas raced to an 8-1 second set start before the Malaysians rallied back, gaining a 17-14 lead. It was there when Alyssa Valdez, Kat Tolentino, and Santiago stopped the bleeding and leading the squad in a 6-2 run to regain control. Eventually, reigning best blocker Ria Meneses and Ces Molina put the finishing touches. From there, the PWNVT dominated the third set.
Malaysia did not participate in the 2019 edition of the tournament. Up next for the Philippines is reigning champion Thailand on Saturday at 3:00PM.