European opposite spikers tend to carry the scoring responsibilities for their respective volleyball teams. It is their great height and athleticism that enables remarkable athletes Tijana Bošković of Serbia, Lonneke Slöetjes of the Netherlands and Nataliya Goncharova of Russia to power their teams.
However, things are different in Asia. Unlike in Europe, to be a great Asian utility spiker, as they were known before, a player has to be good at all volleyball skills. Here in the Philippines, opposites were not covered in the receiving pattern, making our local opposites standout in the international area because of their tight defense. They cover drops, dig hits from the weak side and block the other team’s main outside hitter.
Here are the top female opposite spikers in the Phillippines right now:
Previous Team: Ateneo Lady Eagles (UAAP)
With the departure of Ateneo ace Michelle Morente from the Loyola nest, following the silver finish in UAAP Season 79, the Lady Eagles have officially lost their entire starting unit from the rookie-laden team that conquered the tournament three seasons ago.
In fact, last season was only Morente’s third playing year with the Lady Eagles after skipping Season 78 due to academic problems. This year, she came back stronger providing the leadership, power and energy that the team enjoyed in their back-to-back championship wins. She delivered the mean serves, powerful spikes and, most importantly, the tight service receives and floor defense that propelled Ateneo to its sixth Finals appearance.
Current team: Cocolife Asset Managers (PSL)
Another Michelle secures a spot in the best opposite spikers list – but this time, she’s from the Animo side. She is known for being a three-time UAAP champion, the MVP of their Season 75 Finals series against Ateneo and the former co-captain of the De La Salle Lady Spikers.
However, if there’s one thing that makes Michelle Gumabao unique from everyone in this list, is that she is a two-time UAAP Best Blocker. Considering her position does not really as many blocking chances as those in the middle, Gumabao can be considered as the mightiest wall for an outside hitter to break in Philippine volleyball.
Kim Kianna Dy playing in this position came as a surprise when coach RDJ in Season 78 suddenly called her off the Lady Spikers’ bench, replacing Carol Cerveza in their starting unit.
Originally playing the middle position earlier in her collegiate years she was sidelined by national team players Mika Reyes and Majoy Baron. So a stronger and quicker Kim Dy shifted to the utility position to give a boost to De La Salle’s deteriorating right side following Michelle Gumabao’s decision not to play in her final year.
Through her jump floats, sharp cross-court hits and formidable net defense, she finished that season as the Finals MVP as she won her first championship with De La Salle.
Current team: Petron Blaze Spikers (PSL)
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, or Aiza Maizo as she was known during her collegiate years, originally entered UST as the back-up setter in her rookie year, but later converted to opposite, only to be one of the most remarkable volleyball players UAAP has ever seen. She’s a two-time Champion and a Best Attacker, Best Scorer and Best Receiver awardee in the UAAP. She has also received the Best Server and Best Blocker awards in SVL.
Nang Aiza was also once praised by Chinese coach Lang Ping in the 2013 AVC Club Championships. Armed with an extremely high volleyball IQ, this lefty from Iloilo became part of the Philippine women’s national volleyball team in 2017.
She just had her sixth MVP award in this year’s PSL All-Filipino conference.
Current team: Cignal HD Spikers (PSL)
The ‘Bionic Ilongga’ is the living example that one needs not to come from the UAAP or NCAA to dominate the sport she loves and make a name for herself.
A native of Jordan, Guimaras and was a player for Iloilo’s Central Philippine University women’s volleyball team. Gonzaga first bagged an individual award in the V-League in 2013, when she took home its Season 10 Open Conference MVP award.
Spending a large part of her career with the Philippine Army, she was part of its lineup that defeated a Thai team in an official game in the PSL Invitationals – a rare feat last achieved by the country roughly twenty years ago.
Last year, Jovelyn Gonzaga, along with six other locals, were given the chance to represent the host in the FIVB Club World Championship, showing the world what the prototype of a Filipina opposite spiker looks like.
She has an excellent dig defense and commendable service receiving skills. She’s tall too, which enables her to be an effective blocker at the right wing of the net. Her spikes were strong, equipped with variety, as she showed that her running attacks toward the left were as powerful as any middle blockers.
Honorable mentions include Dzi Gervacio, Sue Roces, Aiko Urdas, Mylene Paat, and Shaya Adorador.