international volleyball

Risa Sato boosts PH Grand Prix team as recovering Alyssa Valdez sits out anew

JR Isaga
Risa Sato boosts PH Grand Prix team as recovering Alyssa Valdez sits out anew

GRIT. Creamline stars (from left) Jema Galanza, Kyla Atienza, Alyssa Valdez and Risa Sato huddle after a play.

PVL MEDIA BUREAU

The Philippine women's volleyball team gets a mix of good and bad news for the ASEAN Grand Prix as Risa Sato returns from a health issue, but dengue-stricken Alyssa Valdez still sits out

MANILA, Philippines – Creamline middle blocker Risa Sato is set to return for the Philippine women’s volleyball team for the ASEAN Grand Prix this September 9 to 11, as confirmed by Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) commission head Tony Boy Liao.

However, the return of the former NU Lady Bulldogs stalwart came with a caveat as Liao also said that longtime national team centerpiece Alyssa Valdez – who is still recovering from a bout with dengue – will only fly with her teammates to Thailand, but will not play in the three-day window.

Replacing Valdez is veteran spiker Rizza Mandapat, while Sato will take the place of rookie middle blocker Lorie Bernardo.

Valdez last played at the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference, where she earned one of the two Best Open Spiker awards, and helped Creamline to a knockout final win over guest team KingWhale Taipei of Taiwan.

Sato also played in the Cool Smashers’ second straight title-winning conference of the 2022 PVL season, before an undisclosed medical issue kept her out of the national team along with Valdez at the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Cup for Women.

Without Valdez and Sato, the Creamline-laden national team still banked on a star-studded core of Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza, Jia de Guzman, Ced Domingo, and Michele Gumabao.

The undermanned Filipina side played a grueling six-game marathon in just seven days and finished sixth in the nine-country tournament, which marked the country’s best finish in an Asian-level tournament in 39 years.

The same core, now boosted by Sato, is again expected to lead the way in the Grand Prix, where the Philippines will be matched up against Southeast Asia’s best teams like Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. – Rappler.com

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