Asian Volleyball

No one left behind: Alas leader De Guzman lauded for team-wide morale boost in AVC semis march

JR Isaga

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No one left behind: Alas leader De Guzman lauded for team-wide morale boost in AVC semis march

BLUE EAGLES SOAR. Alas Pilipinas' Jia de Guzman (left) and Faith Nisperos react in the 2024 AVC Challenge Cup

PVL Images/Joaqui Flores

Alas Pilipinas captain Jia de Guzman, leading mostly a young core unproven in international competition, continues to receive praise for her far-reaching assurance amid an undefeated march to the AVC Challenge Cup semifinal

MANILA, Philippines – Prior to the 2024 Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup, young Alas Pilipinas spiker Faith Nisperos had been on somewhat of a dry spell in her budding career.

So when the rising star finally played spot minutes in the Philippines’ third pool phase match against Iran last Saturday, May 25, everyone in the team and the packed Rizal Memorial Coliseum made sure she felt important to the host nation’s promising campaign, most notably captain setter Jia de Guzman.

In both the Iran match close-out and a majority of Alas’ eventual rout of young Chinese Taipei on Sunday, May 26, the two former Ateneo stars seamlessly connected as if they had played with each other for years, and Nisperos was nothing but grateful for the timely confidence boost De Guzman gifted her.

“It is definitely a [unique] experience that I was able to play with ate Jia inside the court, and her calling me [for plays] was definitely a huge thing for me because she showed me that she trusts me,” Nisperos said in a mix of English and Filipino after the 25-13, 25-21, 25-18 blowout of the young Taiwanese.

“If she trusts me, of course, I need to have trust in myself as well.”

This assuring aura was consistent with every other Alas young star throughout the weeklong tournament, as De Guzman made sure that everyone was accounted for, that everyone would rise alongside her.

“The bench is pretty deep, so no matter who among us is called, she’s ready to deliver, even Julia Coronel as setter,” De Guzman said in Filipino. “It’s good for us because at least we’re a bit more unpredictable for our opponents.”

Ate Jia is a huge deal for us because knowing her, she knows what to do with us inside the court,” middle blocker Thea Gagate said in Filipino after Alas’ second win against India. “So we’re very grateful that she’s our setter, as she does her best to communicate with every single one of us.”

With Alas now boasting a top seed and a spotless 4-0 record after the eliminations, De Guzman will need every single one of her teammates on tip-top confidence as mighty Kazakhstan stands in the way of a knockout gold-medal match opportunity next Tuesday, May 28.

“I want to maximize every chance I can get, get all the experience I can get, and show my skills every chance I can get. So I’m really grateful that I was given a chance, as well as my other teammates,” Nisperos continued.

“My confidence is very much boosted because of my teammates, my coaches, and the fans behind my back. This is a really big thing for me and I’m actually very enlightened heading to Tuesday.” –

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