Alas Pilipinas

‘Grow old together’: Jia de Guzman preaches continuity, locks in long-term for Alas Pilipinas

JR Isaga

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‘Grow old together’: Jia de Guzman preaches continuity, locks in long-term for Alas Pilipinas

LOCKED IN. Alas Pilipinas captain Jia de Guzman in action in the 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup

Volleyball World

Alas Pilipinas captain Jia de Guzman persuades everyone involved with the national team to not be discouraged with small setbacks and continue locking in together for further improvement

MANILA, Philippines – The Alas Pilipinas women’s volleyball team saw its recent torrid winning streak snapped after longtime Southeast Asian tormentor Vietnam handed it a straight-set reality check in the 2024 FIVB Challenger Cup on Friday, July 5, making the Philippines’ appearance a one-and-done gig.

In contrast to its 2024 Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup campaign that garnered a historic bronze medal and a pair of individual awards, Alas failed to make a sustained winning surge against the world No. 34 Vietnamese despite a gallant stand in the latter two frames.

Disappointing as the loss may be for Filipino volleyball fans, Alas captain setter Jia de Guzman held her head high after the setback, as she passionately called on everyone involved with the national team to stick together, no matter the results.

“Because we’re going against teams who already grew old within the national team, that should be our goal as well, to grow old together,” she said in Filipino. “That’s how you build longevity, that’s how you build chemistry, that’s how you build a strong team in the long run.”

“We can’t expect that with one loss, after one adversity, we’d change people. Keep the same people, add new people, reinforce the team. That’s how you make a team strong. Hopefully, that’s what we’d continue to do.”

With De Guzman as its top recruit, the often-criticized Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) pulled out all the stops to improve the national team’s fortunes, successfully tapping multiple stars for a string of tournaments to coincide with the program’s rechristening to the Alas brand.

PVL MVPs Sisi Rondina and Jema Galanza, UAAP MVP rivals-turned-teammates Angel Canino and Bella Belen, star spiker Eya Laure, ace libero Dawn Catindig, and former La Salle twin towers Thea Gagate and Fifi Sharma are just a handful of standouts leading the way in this latest national team iteration.

Still on the way for future tournaments are injured hitters Alyssa Solomon and Casiey Dongallo, while Laure and Chery Tiggo libero teammate Jen Nierva are expected to return after skipping the Challenger Cup.

As part of its commitment to continuity, the PNVF also inked head coach Jorge Souza de Brito to a one-year extension, lasting until the 2025 Southeast Asian Games in December.

Up next for Alas is the regional-level Southeast Asia V. League (former ASEAN Grand Prix) first leg this August in Vietnam, where the Philippines will attempt to snap a three-leg streak of fourth-place finishes.

“I think individually, we have a lot to improve on, and also as a team,” De Guzman continued. “Coach has told us many times to be patient with ourselves and with the team. With Vietnam and more experienced teams, they also went through this before.”

“They just really stuck together all throughout these years and that’s what we need to do as well.” – Rappler.com

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