BALIPURE: New look, same goal
Mark Escarlote on Sep 27, 2016 09:31 AM
New-look BaliPure is looking for a better finish this time.
Change has come to the BaliPure Purest Water Defenders.
The squad may have lost some of its key players but the Water Defenders are still considered as one of the top title-contenders when the 13th V-League Reinforced Conference opens shop this Saturday.
BaliPure will march into battle without superstar power-hitter Alyssa Valdez, who brought her talents to newcomer Bureau of Customs Transformers, with three other vital cogs that brought the Water Defenders to a third place finish in the Open Conference.
“This BaliPure team doesn’t have the former key players which are Alyssa Valdez and Grethcel Soltones, we all know they are the first two players in the open hitter position. We don’t have our libero Alyssa Eroa anymore and Janine Marciano is also playing for another team so those are the main key players that have transferred,” said veteran Charo Soriano.
With the departure of the said key players the Water Defenders tapped two veterans in Suzanne Roces and Sasa Devanadera, who are both part of the last year’s conference champion PLDT Home Ultera, in their former 12-woman roster.
“But we are blessed also to have new players coming to be part of the new BaliPure team which are Sue Roces and Sasa Devanadera,” added Soriano.
BaliPure also took the services of a pair of American reinforcements in setter Kaylee Manns and open hitter Kate Morrell.
Manns has already played in the local scene with stints in the Philippine Superliga while Morell has been a veteran of international tournaments.
Back in the fold for the Water Defenders are former Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles Ella De Jesus, Amy Ahomiro, Bea Tan, Dzi Gervacio, Mae Tajima, setter Jem Ferrer and libero Denden Lazaro.
Ateneo coach Tai Bundit will sit as the new head coach as Soriano moved as a regular player after a double duty as playing coach in the Open Conference.
“I’ll be sitting down as a player already so we can focus on each of our roles and it won’t be confusing for the team as well,” said Soriano.
Looking for redemption
The Water Defenders fell short of landing a spot in the Finals in their Open Conference campaign despite fielding a roster full of stars.
BaliPure was booted out by the eventual champion Pocari Sweat in the semifinals, squandering a 1-0 best-of-three series lead. The Water Defenders salvaged a podium finish in a sweep of Laoag in the battle for third.
“Of course it’s a main goal for each and every team to go all the way but right now we know our weaknesses from the last conferences so we’re trying to work on that with or without the former players that I’ve already mentioned,” Soriano said.
BaliPure’s roster surely doesn’t lack skills and experience but the Water Defenders’ main problem in the Open Conference were the limited time of preparation and the full commitment of most of its players.
Valdez missed the team’s first four games while others had to skip a couple of games because of prior commitments.
The problem that Soriano said they are trying to resolve this time.
“We are now just maximizing our times together, we know last conference we had a hard time in terms of scheduling,” she said. Right now we are trying to fix that even before the conference starts.”
“I hope that we get to mesh as a team and we would be able to give our best this conference,” Soriano added.
Life without Valdez
Soriano admitted that it was hard to see Valdez transfer to a different team but they respect her decision.
“She got recruited by Customs,” she said. “She would have her reasons I think it’s her story to tell also as to why she is not with Team BaliPure right now. But you know wherever she is naman we’re a family eh. Outside the court we’re a family so we support her all the way. We respect her decision regardless.”
BaliPure will take on Bureau of Customs on October 12, Soriano and the rest of her former teammates are all excited to go up against Valdez.
“I think it’s also nice because it’s going to be one of the first few times we’re gonna play against her,” said Soriano, who coached and played with Valdez in a number of championships in the league. “We’re gonna be able to also have that healthy competition in volleyball.”
“We respect her and we support her still. This is us growing. We have our own paths to take naman,” she added.
The Water Defenders has Open Conference finalists Pocari Sweat and Air Force in their radar as teams to beat.
“From the last conference we saw the Air Force team. They are very, very strong. They’re very solid and they’ve been playing for a long time also so they know each other really well. It’s a good competitive advantage for them,” Soriano said.
“And of course Pocari Sweat is also there. They have two new additions to their team. They have two American imports. I think one is an open hitter and one is a middle blocker so they’re very tall. They’re very agile. I think having a very mature team in Pocari Sweat and with additional American reinforcements it’s going to be exciting going to play against them.”
Soriano, meanwhile, counted BoC as a dark horse.
“Of course Customs because of Alyssa Valdez is also a top contender,” she said.
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