Six teams will compete for the PVL Reinforced Conference 2019 crown starting May 26. But while most of the players are gearing for the tournament, some of them have to pull off double duty. Aside from the games and the practices with their clubs, they will also fulfill their responsibilities for the country. These are the PVL athletes in the Philippine women’s national team pools.
Players in the Under-23 pool
Jema Galanza is a late addition to the Women’s Under-23 training pool. The PVL Open Conference 2018 2nd Best Outside Hitter will steer the young guns in future competitions. Meanwhile, Maristela Layug will suit up for the Motolite Power Builders. The UP Lady Maroons middle blocker finished UAAP Season 81 with 61 attacks, 21 blocks, and 11 aces.
Layug will remain teammates with Isa Molde at Motolite. UP’s second leading scorer had 111 spike points, 14 kill blocks, and 14 aces during her penultimate UAAP playing year. Another Lady Maroon will be joining Layug and Molde in the Air Padda-coached squad.
Her Best Blocker award at the Palarong Pambansa made UAAP schools to take notice. But it was Coach Jerry Yee who was able to recruit her to the maroon side of Katipunan. However, she was converted from middle blocker to wing spiker which revealed her explosiveness on offense.
The pride of Pampanga was a vital cog in UP’s Season 78 Final Four stint. She also helped the squad to two bronze medal finishes in the Shakey’s V.League. But just as her stock was soaring, she suffered a shin injury that needed an eight-week recovery period after surgery. That caused her to miss last year’s PVL Collegiate Conference 2018 which UP won.
Carlos made up for lost time by leading the Lady Maroons to the inaugural PSL Collegiate Grand Slam title. She was also named the tournament’s 1st Best Outside Spiker. Those title made UP one of the Final Four favorites for UAAP Season 81. Unfortunately, they missed the semifinals with a 6-8 record.
Diana Mae, or Caloy as she is fondly called by her teammates, still had a great individual season. She is the tournament’s third best scorer with 186 attacks, 15 blocks, and nine aces. Carlos is the fourth best spiker with a 28.18% success rate. She is also a gem on floor defense by averaging four digs per set and a 38.69% reception rate. Her booming spikes will be a plus for the young but talented Motolite unit.
It was also in the Palarong Pambansa when Jia Morado put the Philippine volleyball community on notice. Then a student of the Colegio San Agustin in Makati, she led Team NCR in the 2012 Palaro and won the Best Setter award. She then landed at the eagle’s nest of Ateneo to play collegiate volleyball.
Her rise to become one of the country’s best play makers continued. Morado was part of the UAAP Season 76 championship team which gave Ateneo its first ever women’s volleyball title. That was only the beginning. They completed the perfect season to defend their title the following year. Meanwhile, she won Best Setter honors.
She forwent her final year of eligibility and eventually played for the Creamline Cool Smashers. Morado navigated the Rebisco-backed squad to two championships last season. She was also named Best Setter and Finals MVP in the two conferences that they won.
Her composure and volleyball IQ made her a constant fixture of the national team. Morado was part of the Philippine squad that participated in the 2015 Asian Women’s Under 23 Championship. The former Lady Eagle also played in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games and the 2018 Asian Games.
That Season 76 championship run with Ateneo endeared her to volleyball fans. Valdez willed the Lady Eagles to victories over Adamson and NU just to reach the Finals against the undefeated De La Salle Lady Spikers. Her legend grew when she led her squad to three wins to claim the title.
Her rise to greatness continued from there. She won another title with the Lady Eagles in Season 77 but couldn’t add another one during her final UAAP year. Valdez’ winning ways continued in Creamline wherein she has won two Conference MVP awards. She is also a three-time PVL 1st Best Outside Spiker awardee.
The San Juan, Batangas native has played internationally for both club and country. She became part of the Philippine senior women’s volleyball team and was captain of the Asian U-23 Championship squad. Valdez has also played for 3BB Nakornnont in Thailand and Attack Line in Taiwan.
Valdez will lead the Cool Smashers in the defense of the PVL Reinforced Conference crown. They will be joined by imports Kuttika Kaewpin and Aleoscar Blanco.