Valdez-less Philippines begins VTV Cup campaign Saturday

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The 2015 VTV International Women’s Volleyball Cup is scheduled to begin on Saturday, July 25, in Bac Lieu, Vietnam, with the Philippines as one of the 6 teams participating in the 12th installation of the tournament. 

The Philippines, which is being included the tourney for the first time, will join host country and defending champion Vietnam, Nanjing University from China, Liaoning from China, the April 25 Sports Club from North Korea, and Thailand’s Under-23 team in the competition. 

They will open their campaign with a match against Vietnam on Saturday, followed by contests against Thailand’s Under-23 squad, April 25, Nanjing University, and Liaoning in the succeeding days. 

The team is expected to be without Ateneo Lady Eagle and reigning two-time UAAP MVP Alyssa Valdez, who was advised by doctors to skip the tournament for rest and to remedy her injured shoulder.  

Other members of Philippines’ Southeast Asian Games team including Gretchen Soltones, Rachel Anne Daquis, Denden Lazaro, Bea De Leon, Jaja Santiago, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, and Jia Morado are also going to be absent for a variety of reasons.

Former UAAP MVP Aby Marano will be part of the team along with Dindin Santiago-Manabat.

Making up the rest of the roster are Suzanne Roces, Lizlee Ann Gata-Pantone, Risa Sato, Myla Pablo, Janine Marciano, Shiela Pineda, Grace Masangkay, and Alyssa Eroa. Roger Gorayeb will serve as head coach, while Nes Pamilar will be an assistant coach. 

SEA Games team skipper Jovelyn Gonzaga, Maika Ortiz, Rhea Dimaculangan, and Honey Royse Tubino - all military personnel for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) - were originally supposed to be with the team but were not allowed to join the tournament after failing to secure Detailed Service orders from their mother units.

A Detailed Service order is required for military athletes to join competitons.

Vietnam is coming in as the favorites, not only for being the defending champion, but also due to their rich history in the tournament: 4 golds, 3 silvers, and 2 bronzes. Four MVPs of the tournament have also come from the country.