SEA Games: Espejo, Pinoys drop tight 3-setter to Indonesia; PH-Thailand next

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2019 09:05 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2019 11:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines—Coming into Friday night, the Philippine men's volleyball team had immense momentum with back-to-back straight-sets wins to start these Southeast Asian Games.

But the hosts struggled to rekindle the late-set magic from their previous wins, falling to Indonesia 25-23, 32-30, 25-20, at PhilSports Arena on Friday.

Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas picked up right where they left off from the past two matches, carrying the Philippines to a 14-10 lead in the first set. Indonesia then found its groove by challenging the Philippines' at the net and with the serve, a trend in the match.

The Indonesians eventually took a 19-17 lead after consecutive Philippine errors. That gap lasted until the end of the set, as the Filipinos failed to establish their transition attack.

The second set was more heart-breaking for the hosts. Erasing a 24-22 gap to force a deuce, both sides traded big shots until Indonesia got a break in transition followed by a huge block on Bagunas to seal another set win.

Leading 16-11 in the third set, Bagunas and Espejo showed signs of fatigue down the final stretch. Both wingers were bombarded with serves and faced with constant triple blocks, leading to an insurmountable Indonesian run. The 2017 silver medalists took a 23-19 advantage and never looked back.

Bagunas finished with 24 points, while Espejo added 17, but the Filipinos' net defense, which had been a source of strength in their first two games, faltered against Indonesia as they registered only one kill block.

Rivan Nurmulki put up 24 points for Indonesia, including five of the visitors' 10 blocks in the game. Doni Haryono added 18 points.

Finishing with a 2-1 record, the Philippines still entered the semifinals, where they face defending champions Thailand.

The semifinals is at PhilSports Arena on Sunday.

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2019 SEA Games