DOC VOLLEYBALL: The Premier Seven
AJ Pareja on Jul 11, 2018 10:00 AM
Jia Morado and Alyssa Valdez are just two of the best players in the 2018 PVL Reinforced Conference according to Dr. AJ Pareja.
Once again the whole volleyball community was given a taste of intense volleyball action with the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference. Boosted by top notch foreign guest players from the USA, Thailand, and Ukraine to name a few, club teams slugged it out much to the excitement of the fans.
As with every conference with reinforcements, we all witnessed high-flying, power-packed imports who get stronger every new season to elevate the level of local volleyball. As such, it is expected that these foreign guests will definitely bring in the points whenever they play, but winning conferences such as this still pretty much relies on having a solid base of local players in the team.
While we all have had our jaws drop at how Lakia Bright unleashes a bomb or how Olena Limareva-Flink’s spike makes a thundering boom, we take a look at the best seven local players for each position who undoubtedly contributed to their respective club teams’ performance this season.
Open Hitters – Myla Pablo (Pocari Sweat - Air Force) and Alyssa Valdez (Creamline)
While sitting out the rest of the conference following Game Three of the semifinals due to a recurrence of a former back injury, Myla “The Typhoon” Pablo is undoubtedly the deadliest hitter from the left pin locally. It has been such a pleasure to witness her growth in the position from just a tall inconsistent hitter during her collegiate years to one who teams can’t afford to put just a single block on. With her explosive approach as she winds up for the attack, Pablo is of no doubt one of the most physical open spikers. Her eventual exit due to her back injury could be easily considered as one of the contributing factors that led her team, Pocari Sweat -Air Force, to fall short of defending its title this conference.
On the other hand, Alyssa Valdez is still inarguably one of the most dominant open hitters in the local scene. Though with a noticeable dip in physicality compared to her peak performance, her ability to read the block well and vary her shots accordingly still proves deadly for the Creamline Cool Smashers. Add in her tenacity in doing pipe attacks coupled with respectable passing proficiency, Alyssa Valdez is a perfect complement to Pablo for the open position.
Middle Blockers – Del Palomata (Pocari Sweat - Air Force) and Celine Domingo (PayMaya)
Towering at 6’3” with remarkable footwork and lateral agility, Del Palomata of Pocari Sweat - Air Force is inarguably one of the few that are best fit for the middle position albeit the lack of fanfare and attention. Being one of the tallest players in the local scene, Palomata knows how to play using her height as she has remarkable timing hitting quicks from the middle. Coupled with a setter who knows how to maximize her attack range, Palomata is not just a decoy upfront but a deadly option as well. Packing on some more upper body bulk would definitely be beneficial for her to ensure that her block does not collapse against heavy hitting foreign guest players.
Making a solid rotation for an all-star team would not be complete without enlisting the best blocker in the collegiate scene as another middle defender. With her long reach, ability to press well, and roof points even when left as a single blocker, Celine Domingo is a shoo-in for the middle position. With Domingo rotating with Palomata, opposing teams would think twice in hitting angle shots given a good timing. perhaps the major determining factor who gets to be the first and second middle is who is a better slide hitter and who can cover more blocks.
Opposite Hitter – Michele Gumabao (Creamline)
Though still far from her fighting form during her prime, Michele Gumabao has proven this conference that she is still the best option for an opposite player in the PVL. With her height and exceptional block timing, Gumabao has caused problems to a lot of left wing hitters in the league be it local or foreign guest player.
With her slowly regaining her bulk, her well-known power hits from the right wing would be a highly sought comeback skill for the cool smashers. Should Gumabao also develop a right back row attack to add to her arsenal, the Creamline Cool Smashers might just have the beginnings of a PVL dynasty.
Setter – Jia Morado (Creamline)
Not much can be argued when selecting Jia Morado as perhaps the most effective setter in the local scene.
For this Reinforced Conference of the PVL, it is of no surprise that Cool Smashers barged their way to the Finals given that they are not the tallest of teams and that they don’t have the most physical and dominant of foreign support. Morado’s unpredictability with her offensive strategy as well as ability to distribute the sets exceptionally has been a recurring testament to her setting prowess.
In addition, the speed at which she shoots the pins is a cut above the rest of local setters thereby spelling a lot of problems for blockers of opposing teams.
Libero - Tatan Pantone (PayMaya)
Though we have been witnesses to the emergence of new super liberos in the local scene, Tatan Pantone has withstood the test of time and inarguably still one of, if not the best libero in the local scene. Although seeing death-defying saves and rolls adds much excitement to a rally, what sets Pantone a cut above the rest is the lack of her need to do so. Her ability to be at the right place at the right time when defending the floor is not of sheer luck but her impeccable anticipation and prowess at tracking the ball and its direction. Her laidback mannerism on court may be confused as being timid but it is a testament on how she uses her anticipation skills to play efficient defense with the extra motions.