By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Rebisco Philippines finally savored the sweet taste of success in the 2021 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship by defeating Sri Lanka’s CEB team, 25-14, 22-25, 25-18, 21-25, 15-11, Wednesday night in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
It was the Filipino spikers’ lone victory in the tournament to settle for ninth place in the 10-team affair.
Rebisco slowly built its momentum at the start of the pivotal fifth set that started after taking a 5-3 lead and hanging tough in the face of Sri Lankans’ persistent challenge to close out their campaign on a winning note.
A miscue play briefly gave life to CEB as it cut its deficit, 13-11, but a service error proved to be crucial to give Rebisco the match point advantage.
Jao Umandal sealed the win for the Filipinos with an off-the-block spike.
Overall, the Filipinos did the best they could with only a month of preparation against their more experienced rivals.
They finished the group stage winless in four matches in Pool B and almost won that last preliminary match against Thailand’s Diamond Food in a five-set thriller.
Their other losses were inflicted by Iran’s Foolad Sirjan, Qatar’s Al-Arabi and Uzbekistan’s AGMK.
Foolad Sirjan and Al-Arabi eventually advanced to the semifinals after topping their group with 4-0 and 3-1 win-loss cards. They face hometown squad Nakhon Ratchasima QminC and Kazakhstan’s Burevestnik Almaty, respectively.
The tournament stakes a lone berth to the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championships at a still undetermined date and venue.