OKAYAMA CITY, Japan — The intensive training and preparation of the Philippine women’s volleyball team is starting to bear fruit following a very impressive performance in a friendly match against the Okayama City Seagulls Saturday at the Zip Arena in this lovely Japanese city.
Powered by 6-foot-5 winger Jaja Santiago, the Nationals gamely challenged the elite Japanese club before bowing in a four-set exhibition match, 22-25, 14-25, 22-25, 20-25.
Santiago led the charge with 20 kills and three aces for 23 points while open spiker Alyssa Valdez chipped in 15 kills, an ace and a block for 17 points for the visiting squad, which displayed tremendous improvement in blocking and floor defense in the fifth day of training under Seagulls coach Akiyoshi Kawamoto.
Playmaker Kim Fajardo was also impressive, finishing with 40 excellent sets laced with a kill and an ace while team captain Mika Reyes stepped up in the absence of injured middle blocker Aby Maraño to finish with four markers.
Coach Francis Vicente was happy over the performance, but quick to tone down expectations, saying that the squad still remains a work in progress.