Top five best female outside hitters in the Philippines

Saturday, 14 Oct 2017
Johnfhil Valdellon - Writer - @grebennilazaro

Volleyball would not be as popular as it is today without its star open hitters, the hard-hitting outside spikers who carry much of the load when it comes to the team’s offense. They are usually the top scorers in their team, and hence, often the star players.

To be an effective outside spiker, one should be consistent when it comes to hitting the ball at the left side of the net, for this position gets most sets especially in the midst of a rally or in broken play. She must also be defensively good, as outsides also need to receive and sweep the backline covering the opponent’s down the line attacks.

The Philippines is blessed with talented open spikers who could be potential heavy scorers for the national team. Here are my top 5:

5. Ara Galang

Current team: F2 Logistics Cargo Movers (PSL)

Ara Galang the Great might not be able to play in this year’s Grand Prix, but surely she is a an automatic choice when talking about talented outside hitters. Nobody will ever forget how she used to do the “no-look shots”, looking cross-court, hitting down the line.

During her five-year stint in the UAAP, no other player consistently appeared in the different skill rankings as often as she did. Today, she can still score via her flashy hits, her roof block, or her jump float serve. She contributes to the team’s defense as an excellent receiver and a good digger.

And despite the fact that we won’t be able to see this all-around player play in the next few months, we can’t take away the fact that the UAAP Season 74 Rookie of the Year and Season 75 MVP was still Valdez’s greatest rival, and to see them play in one team is still one of our greatest volleyball dreams.

4. EJ Laure

Current team: UST Tigresses (UAAP) / Foton Tornadoes (PSL)

A young 17-year old Ennajie Laure entered the UAAP in Season 77, fresh from a sweet championship in the Juniors division. As the smoke cleared on the tournament where Ateneo’s Lady Eagles achieved an immaculate sweep, this 5’9 power-hitting Tigress was declared Rookie of the Year alongside Kath Arado of the UE Lady Warriors.

Perhaps EJ Laure’s signature attack is her favorite angled cross-court spike that even good liberos cannot anticipate. And just when you thought she will repeat it, there she goes hitting it hard down the line. Laure hits every ball unpredictably achieving the same power every time she goes for the point.

Her floor defense has improved immensely over the years and she has already played for the National Team in 2015 when the AVC U23 Championships were held in Pasig.

3. Grethcel Soltones

Photo courtesy of Rave Sengco, Volleyball PH

Current team: BaliPure Purest Water Defenders

The Lady Beast was known as a consistent scorer for the PLDT Ultrafast Hitters as part of a star-studded cast that ruled the V-League.

In 2015, she joined the Roger Gorayeb-led National Team to represent the country both in the AVC U23 tournament and the SEA Games held in Singapore. Last year, she exhausted five playing years with San Sebastian in the NCAA emerging with three MVP awards.

Just like any other outside in this list, Grethcel can spike the ball hard in any direction but also regularly experiments with drops. Combined with her ability to deliver aces through her powerful jump, topspin serves she has already placed herself as one of the most efficient receiving and digging outside hitters in the country.

But if there’s one thing that makes her stand out in this list, it is her bubbly personality. It is the way she energizes the team whenever she or another scores. It is how she inspires her teammates to do better and to play happily.

4. Myla Pablo

Photo courtesy of Dondie Ramos, Volleyball PH

Current team: Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors (PVL)

It is inarguable that Tarlac-native ‘Bagyong Pablo’ is one of the country’s finest open spikers given her dominance in the sport both locally and internationally. Her attacks are consistently too powerful for most defenders to handle, and she has good blocking reach too.

She played for the Philippines in the AVC U23 tournament playing as an opposite hitter – a proof of her flexibility as a volleyball player. She provided the boost to the country’s 2015 campaign in the AVC Seniors Championships in China, when she added firepower to the squad.

From being the UAAP Season 75 Best Spiker to PVL Open’s Conference MVP, Myla Pablo never ceased to prove that she, indeed, is one of the best volleyball players this generation has ever seen. Always coming out as her team’s dependable scorer, no-one was shocked when she signed a multi-million lucrative deal with her current team, Pocari Sweat.

5. Alyssa Valdez

Photo courtesy of Nikki Collantes of Volleyball PH

Current team: Attack Line (Chinese Taipei)

This powerful Batanguena needs no introduction, as she continues to show everyone that she truly is the face of Philippine volleyball. Undoubtedly, she is one of the best players the country has ever produced, for she can excel both offensively and defensively. However, every supporter would say that it is her personality and great humility that made her the star player and heavy fan favorite that she is right now.

Throughout her playing career, ‘Bagyong Baldo’ as she was used to be called during her younger years in Ateneo, has developed to be the dependable, all-around player every team dreams of. She has height, an explosive approach to score points in every possible way – cut shots, crosscourt hits, down the line attacks, or through unexpected drop balls on holes her opponents tend to make anticipating her powerful spikes. She has long arms to block, and fast reflexes to place herself in the list of outsides with good floor defense.

Alyssa is a scoring machine, as proven by her four UAAP Best Scorer awards. Also, she is often the most valuable asset of every team and league she plays in, repeatedly winning several MVP awards from her high school days to club ranks. She has joined the national team many times and continues to be one of its greatest scorers helping them to establish themselves again on the international arena.

This year, she achieved another feat as she became the first Filipina volleyball import. With stars Pimpichaya Kokram and Tichaya Boonlert, she joined 3BB Nakornnont in the Thailand Volleyball League.Before this year ends, she will achieve this feat again as she and Vietnamese star 4T are set to join Attack Line, a club team that plays in the Chinese Taipei league.

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