Winless PSL stars are biggest winners

The FIVB Women’s Club World Championship formally closed Sunday night, leaving behind tons of valuable lessons that Filipino players can use in its journey back to international prominence.

Turkish superpower Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul, for one, taught local players the value of chemistry and cohesion after lording over despite the recruitment of Olympic stars Rachel Adams, Tatiana Kosheleva, Thaisa Daher Pallesi, Jordan Larson and Tijana Boskovic, who took home the Most Valuable Player award.

Against the PSL-F2 Logistics Manila, Eczacibasi coach Massimo Barbolini opted to sit out Adams, Kosheleva, Pallesi Larson and Boskovic in favor of the bench players, who all campaigned for the Turkish national team during the recent Rio Olympics.

The result was still impressive as Eczacibasi hammered a four-set win, a testament of their depth and ability to deliver when needed.

Meanwhile, silver medalist Pomi Casalmaggiore taught Filipino stars on how to compete against a heavyweight.

In fact, in the gold medal match, the European champions refused to get intimidated by the vast armory of weapons of Eczacibasi VitrA, prompting them to drag the match to a deciding fifth set.

Bannered by American Carli Lloyd, Croatian Samanta Fabris and Italians Valentina Tirrozi and Lucia Bosseti, Pomi displayed its big fighting heart to make life difficult for the star-studded Turkish side. In the end, Eczacibasi needed a lucky ace from Kosheleva to escape with the win by the skin of its teeth.

Lessons from Japan

Asian superpowers also taught Filipinos a thing or two when it comes to playing in a major international tournament. Hisamitsu Springs Kobe taught PSL-F2 Logistics Manila a neat lesson on scouting, adjustments, use of technology, game strategies and overall preparation.

All those nuggets of wisdom were very evident during their match in the classification battle for 5th to 8th places as the Japanese employed Asian style of volleyball to perfection knowing that the home team’s imports came from Puerto Rico, United States, Ukraine and Russia.

Yes, the PSL stars have a Japanese on its roster in libero Yuri Fukuda and assistant coach Shun Takahashi, but Hisamitsu Springs were too quick, too talented to handle as it made sure that it’s three steps ahead during their straight-set conquest of the home team.

PSL-F2 Logistics coach Moro Branislav said Hisamitsu Springs did nothing extraordinary – but to come up with a good scouting and good preparation.

[quote]Japan (Hisamitsu Springs Kobe) came prepared.

The Japanese knew that our imports are not quite familiar to Asian brand of volleyball. So they exploited that by using quick plays that caught our blockers unaware. It was such an impressive performance.[/quote]

As source said Hisamitsu Springs came with a full 24-man training staff composed of statisticians, medical personnel, scouts and other assistant coaches to make sure that everything is covered. They were all clad in black and were armed with a communication device that is connected directly to the head coach.

[quote]They turned volleyball into exact science.

That’s why they are always two steps ahead of us. These Japanese may not be tall or strong as other teams, but they are the most prepared.[/quote]

Asian champions

On the same note, Bangkok Glass of Thailand also showed up prepared. The Thais, who serve as Filipinos’ prototype of a successful national team program, came with only two imports in Ashley Frazier of the United States and Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hoa of Vietnam, but it didn’t matter as skipper Pleumjit Thinkaow and veteran Wilavan Apinyapong used their familiarity to the Filipinos’ style of play to clobber the PSL stars in just three sets.

Branislav said the Thai’s obviously studied them carefully as they were quick on defense while identifying the strength and weaknesses of the Filipino attackers.

[quote]Bangkok Glass knows our players too well. They are the Asian champions and I have high respect for them as they compete here not to win, but just to gain experience before returning to the Asian level.

But this is just the start. I hope that one day, we can use all the lessons we gained here in future international competition. Playing in a high-level tournament like this is truly an honor, this is a very memorable experience for all of us.[/quote]

True enough, PSL-F2 Logistics Manila lost all of it’s games. But it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is the lessons they learned and how they can use in future international competitions.