PSL’s new kids on the block

Tuesday, 23 May 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad

Three newcomers are ready to take the Philippine Superliga (PSL) by storm and possibly try their luck in the national women’s volleyball team that will compete in two major international tournaments this year.

Rebecca Rivera, Mar-Jana Phillips and Cherylain Dizon are all blue chip players who are expected to suit up in the PSL All-Filipino Conference, which goes full blast early next month at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

A close relative of singer Ariel Rivera from Ontario, Canada, Rivera served as the starting setter of US NCAA Division I powerhouse University of Connecticut and is said to posses a deadly brew of quickness and volleyball IQ.

She would be arriving at the end of May and is tipped to hit the ground running with Sta. Lucia Realty.

Also suiting up for the Lady Realtors is Phillips, a six-foot open spiker from Juniata College in Pennsylvania.

A daughter of an American sailor and a Filipina mother, Phillips was born in Zambales before moving to Carson, California. She arrived in the country last week and is already training with the Lady Realtors as they brace for an all-out war in the country’s prestigious club league.

But the most highly anticipated is Dizon.

Cocolife team official Joshua Ylaya said they were very impressed by her leaping ability, skills and great attitude.

In fact, Dizon – a pure-blooded Filipino who was born in the Middle East before moving to the United States to play for Northeastern University in Boston – is expected to be appointed as the Asset Managers’ first open spiker in the PSL wars.

Although it would take a little more time before she can fully grasp the Filipino brand of volleyball, Ylaya said they already like what they’re seeing in her few days here.

“I like the way she plays. She’s a high-leaper who can spark our offense. She’s very vocal and bubbly and can get along with everybody, especially her teammates, pretty well.”
“Although it would take some time before she can fully adjust to our system, we’re already loving how she’s progressing. She’s very promising.”

Ylaya added that Dizon would be here to stay.

“She would be coming here to play for us and study at the same time.”
“So I think it’s safe to say that she’s here to stay.”

Ready to play for flag?

A PSL insider bared these new faces could be a major boost to the national women’s team when it competes in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the 29th Southeast Asian Games in August.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said they are very eligible to compete internationally as local players since their citizenship documents are already in place.

If that happens, it would mark the second time for a Filipino-American player to play for the national team.

Two years ago, Iris Tolenada, a setter for Philips Gold, saw action for the Philippines in the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship in Tianjin, China.

The source said they are open to arranging a meeting with Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) acting president Peter Cayco to explore the possibility of playing for the country and join the national team training.

They would also report to the PSL this Friday during the general technical meeting and preliminary inquiry.

“Their arrival would definitely give the national team a very competitive atmosphere. Suddenly, our players would have to work doubly hard to prove that they deserve their respective slots in the Philippine Team.”

Tipped to be challenged by the arrival of these newbies are setters Kim Fajardo, Roselle Baliton and Rhea Dimaculangan as well as spikers Rachel Anne Daquis, Alyssa Valdez, Frances Molina, Jaja Santiago, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Jovelyn Gonzaga.

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