Local volleyball highlights in the year that was (part 1)
ABS-CBN Sports compiled this year's best and brightest moments in local volleyball.
The year 2015 proved to be a banner year for Philippine volleyball. From the collegiate level, to the local club scene, up to exposures in the international stage, the sport has come a long way.
Let us look back at the local volleyball highlights in the year that was.
BIRTH OF LVPI
The national sports association of volleyball for the longest time struggled to maintain its stability and was battered by political bickering inside its leadership.
In late 2014, the Philippine Volleyball Federation was broken into two factions in a tug-of-war for the control of the sport that was slowly gaining back its lost glory for decades.
The Philippine Olympic Committee under its president Peping Cojuangco, decided to step in and thus the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. was born early this year.
POC first vice president Joey Romasanta was given the mandate to assemble a new volleyball federation and was appointed as the head of LVPI. Major stockholders of the sport: the NCAA, UAAP, Shakey’s V-League and Philippine Superliga gave their support to LVPI.
Under LVPI, the country was again put in the international volleyball map.
The country hosted the Asian Women’s U-23 Championship, a squad was sent in the men’s U-23, and a team participated in the Asian Seniors Championship. But the biggest of all was when the country sent a men’s and women’s team in the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore last June for the first time since 2005.
PVF up until now contests the legality and recognition of LVPI as the country’s rightful NSA of the sport.
BEACH VOLLEYBALL JUST GETS HOTTER
Volleyball’s popularity extends from indoor venues to the sands.
Gone were the days when beach volleyball tournaments happen only during the summer.
With sand courts now available within the metro, players as well as fans need not to go on crowded and far-flung beaches to witness great outdoor volleyball action.
The Philippine Superliga launched its inaugural beach volleyball tournament where 12 teams in the women’s and division and nine in the men’s side battled it out for the title.
Danika Gendrauli and Norie Jane Diaz of Gilligan’s emerged as the women’s champion while Jade Becaldo and Hachaliah Gilbuena of SM by the Bay won the men’s mint.
A group of former indoor volleyball players decided to give the sport a boost when they created the Beach Volleyball Republic, Inc.
Organized by athletes for the athletes, BVR came up with pocket tournaments in different beaches in the country and had three major contests held in Manila: The Queen of the Sands, King and Queen of the Sands and the BVR Christmas Open, which was aired live by ABS-CBN Sports+Action.
Aside from local tourneys, the country also hosted an international indoor beach volleyball competition, the inaugural Philippine Sports Commission Spike for Peace which saw players coming from Asia, Europe, USA and South America compete for the title and its hefty prize money.
Charo Soriano and Filipino-American Alexa Micek and the PSL duo of Gendrauli and Diaz represented the PHI.
The Philippines made history by hosting the inaugural Asian Women’s U-23 Championship last May.
UAAP back-to-back Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez of two-time champion Ateneo de Manila, NCAA counterpart Grethcel Soltones of San Sebastian College, National University’s Jaja Santiago and Myla Pablo, and UAAP Season 77 Rookie of the Year EJ Laure of University of Sto. Tomas bannered the young, talented and promising Pinay squad that drew a large crowd that rocked the Philsports Arena.
The team gave powerhouse China, which eventually won the crown, quite a scare in the quarterfinals before bowing down in four sets.
The Pinays finished seventh overall out of the 12 teams that participated in the contest.
The men’s squad traveled to Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar and faced Asia’s best and well-prepared teams.
Though the team led by UAAP back-to-back MVP Marck Espejo and Peter Torres and handled by Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro were hastily assembled and lacked adequate preparation, they did the country proud when they finished 14 out of the 16-team field. They won against Southeast Asian rival Vietnam 28-26, 28-30, 31-33, 27-25, 15-8.
SOUTHEAST ASIAN GAMES
It has been a decade since the country had volleyball entries in the SEA Games.
Under a new volleyball federation recognized by the POC, the PHI sent both men’s and women’s squads in the 28th edition of the biennial meet in Singapore.
Our women’s team was an instant hit not only among Pinoy fans in Singapore but also among the foreign media covering the event.
Rachel Anne Daquis became a celebrity with her good looks as the former Queen Tamaraw graced a number of billboard ads around the main sports hub of the meet.
But in a cutthroat competition, the inexperienced Pinay spikers fell victim to the well-oiled squads of rival countries.
Even in a format that could benefit the PHI, our volleybelles came up a win short of making it to the semifinals – an outright bronze medal for those who qualified.
The Filipinas won against Malaysia in the group stage in straight sets but were easily dismantled by Indonesia and Vietnam.
The men’s team suffered the same fate, winning against Malaysia in the opening game before losing to Myanmar and Thailand.
LADY BULLDOGS BITE LADY EAGLES IN SVL COLLEGIATE JOUST
The Ateneo de Manila was on an high after its success in the UAAP and was considered as the title favorite for the Shakey’s V-League 12 Collegiate Conference.
Behind Alyssa Valdez and Lady Eagles’ solid core, Ateneo was unstoppable.
They dropped only one game on their way to the finals. They were the favorites after all.
But not for the National University Bulldogs.
Under new coach Roger Gorayeb and with veteran setter Rubie De Leon and alumna Dindin Santiago as imports, the Lady Bulldogs spoiled Ateneo’s fun by snatching the crown in three championship series games after dropping the opener.
It was NU’s second title of the conference. They won the championship two years ago also against the then Gorayeb-mentored Lady Eagles, also in a decider.
(To be continued)
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