Kim Hill may play in Manila, but…

Talks about VakifBank star Kim Hill playing in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) took centerstage following her informal pronouncement shortly after the closing ceremonies of the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship.

Hill’s possible arrival would surely boost the level of competition in Philippine volleyball.

A strong opposite spiker who won a bronze medal for United States in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Hill was the Most Valuable Player in the Turkish League and is considered as one of the world’s best players together with teammate Zhu Ting of China, Tijana Boskovic and Milena Rasic of Serbia, Tatiana Kosheleva of Russia and Foluke Akinradewo and Rachel Adams of the United States.

In a party after the world championships, Hill privately told a couple of Filipino friends that she’s strongly considering to return to Manila to further enjoy the warm tropical weather, great Filipino fans and very short season in the country’s premier club league.

The source, who was also present in the party at a posh bar in Bonifacio Global City, said Hill assured her Filipino hosts that money wouldn’t be a problem as she is very much open to sit down and talk things over.

After all, she’s very good friends with Foton import Ariel Usher, making it easier for her to get used to competing and playing with Filipino players.

But the idea of Hill seeing action in Manila was shot down even before it could formally take off. And Usher knows that bringing her friend here would be easier said than done.

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Childhood friends

Hill and Usher are childhood buddies.

Usher said they were competing against each other since they were 12 years old and would often clash in the finals of various age-group tournaments.

In college, Usher attended University of Portland while Hill enrolled at Pepperdine University, two of the top teams in the tough WCC Conference in the Division I of the US NCAA.

[quote]We went to opposing colleges in the same WCC Conference. She played at Pepperdine and I at University of Portland. So we’ve been around each other for a very long time.[/quote]

Hill joined the United States national team in 2013 and won gold medals in the FIVB World Championship in Italy in 2014 and FIV World Grand Prix in Omaha in 2015.

In the Olympics, Hill and other American stars like Carli Lloyd, Jordan Larson, Akinradewo and Adams were shocked by the powerful Serbians led by Boskovic, Rasic and Maja Ognjenovic in thrilling five sets, 25-20, 17-25, 21-25, 25-16, 13-15.

They, however, bounced back in the bronze-medal game with a four-set drubbing of Netherlands.

Usher said Hill’s star started to shine the moment she joined the national team.

[quote]Honestly, she started to become amazing when she started playing for the national team. In club/college she was a rightside so she didn’t have to receive. But when I saw her playing outside of the national team I was so surprised. She probably had to work a lot to get used to not only hitting on that side but also serve receiving.[/quote]

Usher and Hill reconnected during the FIVB tourney. They were often spotted talking and enjoying each other’s company, a proof that time and distance couldn’t separate these childhood friends.

Usher said seeing Hill compete against the best players in the world truly made her proud.

[quote]It’s so fun to watch her on the big stage. Nothing but happiness for her.[/quote]

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Not now

Unfortunately, bringing a blue chip player to Manila is extremely difficult.

While local fans already saw the likes of Puerto Rican national team captain Lynda Morales, US NCAA standouts like Bojana Todorovic of University of California-Los Angeles, Alexis Olgard of University of Southern California, Kristy Jaeckel of Florida University and veterans like Lindsay Stalzer and Stephanie Niemer, a player in Hill’s caliber may seem like a fantasy.

Usher said Hill is making a lot of money and it’s going to be tough to buy out – or match – her contract in the Turkish League, which is considered as one of the richest leagues in the world.

[quote]Personally, probably not. She has a good chance to play anywhere in the world.[/quote]

Details of Hill’s contract is not available at the moment, but industry sources said she can command a contract that is bigger than $100,000, an amount that would be very difficult to match even by heavyweights like F2 Logistics, Foton, Petron and Cignal.

Volleyball, after all, is not yet super big in the Philippines and big-time conglomerates are not yet ready to open their wallets, similar to what they’re doing with basketball where they reportedly paid naturalized player Andray Blatche a cool $1 million for his two-week tour of duty for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Championship in Spain in 2014.

[quote]Exactly. She (Hill) makes good money at other clubs.[/quote]

But still, Usher is not yet shutting down the doors. She knows Hill would love to play in Manila – but not now.

[quote]I think it would be possible at the end of her career when she’s looking for a short season to have fun and enjoy more of a laidback season.[/quote]

So yes, local fans have to come up with a lot of patience – and a lot of prayers – before they could get to see Hill competing again before their very eyes.

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