MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to end a long medal drought, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) sent the national women’s volleyball team to a training camp in Japan in preparation for the country’s hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The government’s funding arm for sports doled out a total of P1.7 million to subsidize the 12-day camp meant to boost the squad for the prestigious biennial meet from November 30 to December 11.
The squad left for Tokyo on Saturday, October 19, where it will test its mettle against prominent club teams like Kashiwa Angel Cross, Yamanashi Chuo Bank, Gunma Bank Green Wings, and Hitachi.
The Nationals will also clash with collegiate teams like Nittai University and Aoyama University.
"We know that Japan is the gold standard in Asian volleyball. They may not be tall, but they are quick, tactical and very disciplined," said PSC chairman William "Butch" Ramirez
"That’s why we’re throwing our all-out support to this training camp. We feel that with just the right training program and exposure, winning a medal in the SEA Games will be very possible."
Despite its massive popularity, the women’s volleyball team has yet to stand out in the international arena.
After winning a bronze medal in the 2005 SEA Games, the Nationals failed to join in the next 4 stagings of the meet before making a return in the 28th edition in Singapore in 2015 and the 29th edition in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
This time, the Nationals have a golden chance of winning, not only because the tournament will be held in the country, but also because of the emergence of some top-tier talents like Filipino-American spiker Kalei Mau and middle blocker Majoy Baron.
Aside from Mau and Baron, the squad will continue to be reinforced by captain Aby Maraño and veterans Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado, Mika Reyes, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Frances Molina, Rhea Dimaculangan, Dawn Macandili, Mylene Paat.
Also included were rising stars Maddie Madayag, Eya Laure and Kat Arado.
Shaq Delos Santos continues to mentor the team along with Kungfu Reyes and Brian Esquibel as deputies.
Valdez and Morado, however, are expected to fly back on Friday, October 25, to join Creamline in its semifinal battle in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference.
On the other hand, the whole team will be back on November 1, just in time for the Philippine Superliga Super Cup where they would face two select local teams and a university team from Japan. – Rappler.com