ALL IS set for the Philippines’ grand return to the international volleyball scene via the 18th Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship scheduled for May 20 to 28, 2015 in the cities of Tianjin and Beijing, China. Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas (LVPI) in cooperation with the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) has officially started tryouts and preparations under the supervision of multi-titled coach Sammy Acaylar Tuesday evening (April 7) at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Over 20 patriotic ladies showed up, led by nominated team captain Abigail Marano of Petron Blaze. “I’m happy with the turnout and everyone showed they want to contribute to the national cause,” said Coach Acaylar.
By next week, the pool will be trimmed to 18 players from where the final 12 regulars and two alternates will be selected to fly to China. Assisting Coach Acaylar are Rosemarie Prochina, Francis Vicente, Marcelo Joaquin and Benson Bocboc.
The Filipinas face a tall order come tournament time as they have been drawn in Pool D together with returning Bronze medalist South Korea, Australia and Kazakhstan. Thailand is the defending champion, bagging the trophy two years ago on their home court in Nakhon Ratchasima.
Australia will be the Philippines’ first opponent on May 20. This will be followed by games against the Kazakhs on May 21 and the South Koreans on May 22.
Among the other players who attended were Michelle Gumabao, Myla Pablo, Melissa Gohing, Shaya Adorador and Iris Tolenada of Philips Gold, Carmina Aganon, Mary Grace Masangkay and Ivy Jisel Perez of Petron Blaze, Rizza Jane Mandapat and Kim Dy of Shopinas.com, Marleen Cortel, Lilet Mabbayad and Abigail Praca of Mane ‘N Tail, Ana James Diocareza and Jamela Suyat of the University of Perpetual Help System-Dalta and Angelique Dionela, Carmela Tunay, Rica Jane Enclona, Jana Katrina Sta. Maria, Colleen Bravo, Jeanetta Panaga, Jannine Navarro and Lourdes Clemente of Cignal HD. At the moment, Coach Acaylar is not closing the door on other players who may later wish to tryout.
“Almost all the players we invited showed up plus a few walk-ons,” added Coach Acaylar. Right now, the coaching staff is looking at one to two training sessions a week.
Before the workout, the ladies were given a pep talk by Super Liga President and CEO Ramon “Tats” Suzara who stressed the rare opportunity and special feeling of playing for the national team. “The PSL adjusted the schedule of the ongoing All-Filipino Conference so that it will finish earlier and allow the team more time to train together,” he said.
For her part, Marano could not hide her excitement at the chance to don the national colors again after a potential stint with the national junior squad in 2009 fizzled out. “I thank my team Petron Blaze and my employer Meralco for allowing me to pursue my dream,” she said.
The Philippine Senior Women’s Team is currently ranked in 63rd Place among 121 nations in the latest FIVB World Ranking. While winning the coming Asian tournament is a long shot, the country’s participation alone is a major and logical step after the unprecedented growth of volleyball as both a participatory and spectator sport over the last decade.
Given the popularity and star power of the names mentioned earlier, in the end only one name on their jerseys will matter – Philippines. It’s high time to reclaim a place in the world volleyball map.