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University of Tsukuba sweeps PH national team, wins Super Cup

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PH volleyball seeks to keep morale intact (2:51)

The PH women's volleyball team is trying to absorb the blow of heading to the SEA Games without Kalei Mau, who has been ruled ineligible. (2:51)

The University of Tsukuba proved too much to handle for the Philippine women's volleyball team as the Japanese earned a 25-13, 25-21, 25-19 victory to secure the gold medal in the PSL Super Cup Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

The reigning inter-collegiate champions in Japan remained undefeated after sweeping all three games in the inaugural tournament.

Coming off a lopsided loss in the opener, the undermanned Philippine team tasted early leads in the second and third sets but struggled to overcome the fast-paced offense and impenetrable defense of the Japanese team.

The Philippines missed the services of Kalei Mau (strained neck muscle), as well as the Creamline duo of Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado.

Skipper Aby MaraƱo topped with seven points, while rookie Eya Laure contributed six points and 10 digs. Ces Molina, Mylene Paat, Majoy Baron, and Roselyn Doria added four points each.

Marina Takahashi led the Japanese side with 13 points built on nine spikes and four blocks.

Meanwhile, MJ Phillips powered Team Shine to a third-place finish after a thrilling come-from-behind win over Team Sparkle, 25-15, 25-18, 20-25, 22-25, 17-15.

A sweep was brewing for Team Sparkle, which relied on the firepower of Ranya Musa and Grethcel Soltones, but Team Shine refused to give up and eventually completed an incredible comeback that led to its first win.

Phillips anchored Team Shine's attack with 17 points built on 14 spikes and three blocks, on top of 11 digs. Ria Meneses finished with 12 points highlighted by three blocks, while Patty Orendain delivered 11 points including three aces.

The two sides engaged in a competitive duel in the third set. Team Shine took advantage of Phillips' powerful hits to take the lead but Soltones kept on rallying Team Sparkle on the other end. From a 20-all deadlock, Team Shine relied on Orendain's strong serves and opponent errors to break away.

Unlike the earlier periods, Team Sparkle had to play catch up in the fourth set move before a tight back-and-forth battle ensued. Phillips once again anchored the finishing run that forced a fifth set, which turned out to be another close affair that Team Shine won down the stretch.

The combined 40 points of Musa and Soltones went for naught for Team Sparkle, which wasted an opportunity to pull off a straight-sets victory.

The PSL Super Cup served as preparation for the Philippine team ahead of the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the country will host from November 30 to December 11.