Lifesavers’ overhaul continues

Thursday, 18 Jan 2018
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad

Generika-Ayala’s buildup continues as it tapped a Mexican libero and a former head coach to be part of its coaching staff for the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix that kicks off on Feb. 17.

Kimberly Gutierrez, a former member of Mexico’s U18 women’s volleyball team, was hired to man the backline while former Iriga City head coach Parley Tupaz will join the coaching staff when the Lifesavers try to shoot for an impressive finish in the most prestigious club league in the country.

The 22-year old Gutierrez will join a young and promising Generika-Ayala side that is overhauling its roster following the departure of head coach Francis Vicente, who decided to shift his focus on University of the East in the UAAP.

Prior to her hiring, the Lifesavers re-called Darlene Ramdin of Trinidad and Tobago and Katarina Pilepic of Croatia as imports while securing the services of middle blocker Marivic Meneses, setter April Ross Hingpit and libero Bang Pineda from Petron.

Chemistry, however, will not be a major issue as Gutierrez used to play with Pilepic and former Generika-Ayala import Penina Snuka at Arizona University in the Division I of the US NCAA.

According to her scouting report, Gutierrez is a passionate defender who thrives in pressure-packed situations, prompting the Lifesavers not to miss the services of Bia General and Kat Arado, who both decided to return to their respective university teams in the UAAP.

“Kimberly is a great passer even in pressure moments.”

“She is very determined and mistakes do not stop her from her set goal for the match. She is not afraid to hustle even if it seems to be too far from her reach. She is driven by passion which makes her game more intense.”

“More than that, she’s up to the challenge and determined to work hard no matter the circumstances.”

Sweet return

But if Gutierrez will get to taste local action for the first time, it’s going to be a sweet return for Tupaz.

Tupaz, who steered the Lady Oragons to an impressive debut over Sta. Lucia Realty before tumbling down following the suspension of star spiker Gretchel Soltones in the Grand Prix last year, said he’s looking forward to contribute to the Lifesavers.

It, however, appears that he is more comfortable playing second fiddle.

In fact, he was part of the coaching staff when Ateneo de Manila University won the UAAP women’s volleyball title in 2014 and 2015.

He also served as trainer of the national women’s team that competed in the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore in 2015.

“This is another challenge for me.”

“I will do my best to contribute and help the team, Generika-Ayala, achieve its goal of winning the title. It may not be an easy journey, but I’m glad that I was chosen to be part of it.”

Sources said the Lifesavers are already moving “very close” to reach an agreement with its new mentor.

The formal announcement will be made in the next few days.

“So far, so good.”

“Our team is almost complete. We have already started our preparation and everybody is in high spirit. We just need one more blocker to help Ria and Mikaela (Lopez) in defending the net.”

Aside from the newcomers from Petron and the three imports, Generika-Ayala will still have Angeli Araneta, Carol Cerveza, Patty Orendain, Fiola Ceballos and Lopez to bank on.