PHI to showcase Morado-Mau; Alohi-Robins-Valdez tandems
Mark Escarlote on Sep 11, 2019 05:31 PM
Jia Morado to Kalei Mau or Alohi Robins-Hardy setting up Alyssa Valdez, will this new tandems of setter-spiker work for the National women's volleyball team?
Creamline stars Alyssa Valdez and setter Jia Morado are looking forward to play alongside the Fil-American tandem of power-hitter Kalei Mau and playmaker Alohi Robins-Hardy.
The duo will join the bulk of the national women’s volleyball team in Thailand on Sunday to train and work on their chemistry heading into the inaugural ASEAN Grand Prix on Sept. 20 in Nakhon Ratchasima and the 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila in November.
Both national team veterans are excited to share the court with the two new additions who they will play with for the first time in an international tournament.
For years the Valdez-Morado connection has been proven to be one of the country’s most lethal duos with both playing together since their UAAP days.
Now with equally talented albeit taller teammates, Valdez and Morado can’t wait to see if they can work as good as they are right now with a different tandem.
“Masaya kasi I've seen sobrang high caliber players nila, especially si Kalei, I've seen her play,” said Morado, who started playing for the Nationals in 2015. “I've trained with her a few times and na-set-up-an ko na siya and sobrang wow, sobrang lakas niya talaga.”
The 6-foot-2 Mau, the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference Most Valuable Player, along with Cignal’s Robins-Hardy earned a spot in the national team just this year.
Known for her heady steady style of playmaking, the Creamline setter hopes to be able to utilize the power and athleticism of the F2 Logistics star Mau, who played for University of Arizona in the US NCAA, to the fullest.
“Doon ko nakukuha 'yung satisfaction ko is seeing na I can set up players na ganoon kalakas tapos mabigyan ko pa ng single block. Mas masaya 'di ba?” said the four-time Premier Volleyball League Best Setter. “And I've heard how vocal and how much of a leader she is inside the court. So, I'm excited to get a chance to play with her.”
For Valdez, she welcomes the challenge of hitting the ball coming from a setter that’s taller than her.
“Baka ako mag-set kay Alohi,” joked the 5-foot-8 Valdez about the 6-foot-2 Robins-Hardy, who played for Brighan Young University in the US NCAA.
“Well, that's why we're going to Thailand to train and to play kasi for the longest time, you've seen me play with Jia and Kim Fajardo na parang magkaka-height din naman kami. Rhea Dimaculangan also. I haven't played with a setter as tall as Alohi,” said the three-time PVL MVP.
Valdez knows that she and Robins-Hardy will have to make a lot of adjustments to hit the right tempo and pace of play.
“So, for sure, it's a different flight ng bola, different height ng bola, different timing so that's why we're going to Thailand as early as now also para maka-training kami.”
The next few days will be a period of adjustments for the four players but the Valdez and Morado are both embracing the challenge and hope to develop the same connection that they have with Mau and Alohi-Robins.
“I’m really, really excited kasi sobrang bago. Sobrang bago sa amin 'to ni Jia kasi magkaka-teammate siya ng matangkad na open spiker na sobrang lakas,” said Valdez. “Ako setter din na, we're going to be exposed sa setter na as tall as Alohi. So, Im really excited to learn so many things from them kasi for sure, iba rin 'yung background and culture nila in terms of playing volleyball.”
Joining Valdez and Morado in their flight on Sunday are Maddie Madayag, Eya Laure and Jovelyn Gonzaga.
Already in Thailand are skipper Aby Marano, Mau, Robins-Hardy, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mylene Paat, Majoy Baron, Ces Molina, Roselyn Doria, Dawn Macandili and Kath Arado.
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