Rocky road for National Team

Tuesday, 08 Aug 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad

Expect the 19th AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship to be a bumpy ride for the national women’s volleyball team.

As delegates started trickling into Crimson Hotel, the tournament’s official residence, local fans could only marvel at the star power and talent of the players from 14 competing teams.

Southeast Asian supremo Thailand is parading the core of its squad that saw action in the FIVB World Grand Prix in Nanjing, China recently with ace playmaker Nootsara Tomkom, open spiker Wilavan Apinyapong and skipper Pleumjit Thinkaow at the helm.

South Korea will also be a force to be reckoned with as global star Kim Yeon-kuong banners the squad composed of Olympians and Grand Prix veterans Hwang Yuon-Joo, Yang Hyo-jin, Kaim Hae-ran and Kim Su-Ji.

National head coach Francis Vicente knows the enormity of the task, saying that all they can do is to play their hearts out and hope for the best.

“Most of these players are coming straight from Nanjing so their conditioning and fighting form are very much intact.”
“But we will not go down without putting up a fight. Our team is prepared and is willing to give everything just to make the country proud.”

Potential roadblock

There are three squads that the Philippines has to overcome to pull off an earth-shaking victory – Kazakhstan, Vietnam and South Korea.

The tall and lanky spikers from Central Asia are poised to give the Nationals a tough time in the first round of preliminaries.

Should the Philippines overcame Hong Kong and emerge in top two of Pool A, it will move to the second round to join the two other qualifiers in Pool C composed of South Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

New Zealand and Sri Lanka are not really serious threats. In fact, a pair of local university teams edged the Kiwis in friendly matches few days ago.

A long-time volleyball observer said winning over Vietnam in the second round is a tall order.

“Let us remember that these Vietnamese also landed on our group in the SEA Games.”
“They are a potential roadblock to our bid of coming up with a bronze medal in the SEA Games. So our match against them will be a preview of how we will perform against them in Kuala Lumpur.”

Bangkok Glass middle blocker Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hoa will spearhead the Vietnamese.

Ready to roll

Vicente said they are more than ready to put up a fight.

The noted tactician stressed that they spent the past couple of days putting themselves in fighting mindset following a grueling 17-day training camp in Japan.

Yes, they still trained twice-a-day at the Arellano School of Law gym, but majority of their time was spent on fine tuning everything they learned from elite Japanese coach Akiyoshi Kawamoto and some Japanese squads.

The team checked in at Crimson Hotel Monday and moved its training to Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, the main venue of the Asian tourney.

“We’re already done with our tactical preparation.”
“We’re now in the final stretch. It’s now time for us to relax, concentrate and fine-tune everything we learned in Japan. The team is ready. Everybody is ready.”

Action in the AVC Asian Seniors kicks off on Wednesday.