During the first day of tryouts for the Seniors and Under-23 squads of the Philippine women’s volleyball team, team captain Aby Maraño shared that last year’s tournaments were used to learn more about the sport and to gain more experience especially against the best players in Asia.
“Masarap sa pakiramdam kasi you look up to them when it comes to volleyball and you get to play with them, ang dami mong natututunan sa kanila. At yun, real time na nag-aaral ka kasi kalaban mo sila,” said the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers middle blocker. “Napaka-swerte na inabot namin yun panahon ngayon na nakalaro kami for Asian Games and AVC Cup,” she added.
But after what can be considered as the honeymoon period for Team Philippines, the two-time UAAP Season MVP shared their mission for this year without batting an eyelash. “Definitely, our goal is to win a medal sa SEA (Southeast Asian) Games,” the former De La Salle Lady Spiker responded.
There are two reasons behind this according to the four-time PSL champion. First, it will be a sign of appreciation for the hometown crowd. “Alam natin na tayo yun hosts so definitely makakakuha tayo ng maraming suporta sa mga fans ng volleyball at sa mga kapwa Pilipino natin na nagmamahal sa mga atletang Pilipino. Yun din naman yun gusto namin ibalik sa kanila,” Maraño expressed.
The second reason is to end the country’s SEA Games medal drought in women’s volleyball. “Kasi matagal na rin naman noong huli tayong nakakuha noon at nakikita niyo naman lahat ng pagod, hirap, at sakripisyo na binibigay ng mga atleta, nilalagay namin, binibigay namin para doon,” the three-time UAAP champion exclaimed.
The Philippines’ last medal in women’s volleyball came when Coach Ramil De Jesus led the likes of Joanne Bunag, Tina Salak, Michelle and Mayeth Carolino, Rubie De Leon, and Mary Jean Balse-Pabayo to a bronze medal finish at the 2005 SEA Games held at the West Negros University Gymnasium in Bacolod City.
Maraño is also elated about the new players who tried out for the Senior National Team. “Maganda kasi we see new faces and new players na dumating na tiyak makatulong sa team.” New attendees include Jerrili Malabanan of the FEU Lady Tamaraws, Jannine Navarro of the Cignal HD Spikers, Ria Meneses of the Generika Ayala Lifesavers, Remy Palma of the Petron Blaze Spikers, and Kalei Mau of the Cocolife Asset Managers.
Present among those who played for country during the 2018 Asian Games and the AVC Cup for Women are Alyssa Valdez, Mika Reyes, Mylene Paat, Majoy Baron, Dawn Macandili, Denden Lazaro, Risa Sato, Jema Galanza, Kim Kianna Dy, Kim Fajardo, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, and Cha Cruz-Behag.
Aside from the SEA Games, the Philippine senior women’s volleyball team will also compete in the 20th Asian Senior Women’s Championship in South Korea from August 31 to September 8. Some of them may also participate in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship in China from April 20 to 28.