While volleyball spotlight is trained on the fierce battle for Final Four position in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), the national women’s volleyball team is working quietly, opting to train without much fanfare or media coverage.
A photo of the national team was leaked last week showing Jovelyn Gonzaga, Lourdes Clemente, Alyssa Valdez, Myla Pablo, Rhea Dimaculangan, Gen Casugod and Bia General taking a break from their Sunday training.
Also in the photo was Zenaida Ybanez-Chavez, a volleyball legend who is a member of the national team that won the gold medal in the 1993 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
She was brought in by head coach Francis Vicente to run the weekly training and share his insights of how it is to compete in the international arena. Also part of the coaching staff were Kungfu Reyes of UST, Brian Esquibel of Letran and Benson Bocboc of La Salle with Ian Fernandez of UST also serving as one of the trainers.
A source from Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) confirmed that the national squad had already started its training and opted to do it away from the media limelight.
The insider didn’t reveal further information, but stressed that the team is meeting every week even without Kim Fajardo, Kim Dy and Dawn Macandili of La Salle, Maddie Maddayag and Kat Tolentino of Ateneo and other UAAP stars, who are still locked in a tight battle for the crown.
They, however, didn’t meet last Sunday to give them time to celebrate Easter with their family.
Other players included in the pool are Lourdes Clemente, Denden Lazaro, Rachel Anne Daquis, Maika Ortiz, Dindin Manabat, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Roselle Baliton, Kat Arado, Ria Meneses, Mika Reyes, Elaine Kasilag, Abigail Marano and Grethcel Soltones.
[quote]“As we know, the schedule of these players is very tight. They have training with their university or club teams while some are still attending to their school commitments. So talagang mahirap.”
“So we decided to call for weekly training for the meantime while the UAAP is still ongoing. The training will get more frequent as we go along. The important thing is that we’re developing our chemistry and all players are on the same page as far as preparation is concerned.”[/quote]
Volleyverse tried, but calls made to Vicente were unreturned.
Suzara, a ranking executive of the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC), is also responsible in bringing in Shun Takahashi and Yuri Fukuda to be part of the PSL Manila squad that saw action in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship last year.
The insider said Vicente would be cutting the list to 18 players before they leave for Japan next month.
[quote]“I think everybody has an equal chance of making it, but those who are committed and dedicated will surely survive the cut.”[/quote]
Aside from Japan, LVPI is reportedly also looking at sending the team to South Korea and China, the country that won the gold medal in the Rio Olympics last year, as part of its massive buildup for the 29th Southeast Asian Games and the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship this August.
The source reiterated that fans do not have to worry about the status of the national team.
They train hard in silence.
Everything is being covered. And for them, the greatest test of a man’s character is what he does when nobody is watching.