AVC Asian Cup: Team PHI marches into battle
The national women's volleyball team flies to Thailand for the AVC Asian Cup opening this weekend. (Photo courtesy @manelavice)
The Philippine national women’s volleyball team braces for another tough battle as the Filipinas begin their campaign in the AVC Asian Cup in Nakhon Ratchasima slated to unfold on Sunday.
The rest of the squad flew to Thailand on Friday to join Creamline players Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado, Jema Galanza and libero Mel Gohing.
Valdez and her Cool Smashers teammates are already in Thailand for the club’s training camp.
The Nationals will open their campaign on Sunday against Australia in Pool C.
Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. president Peter Cayco is managing his expectations but hopes that the exposure will further strengthen the team for future tournaments.
“Very strong teams entered in this tournament, top teams in Asia. Almost the same cast as the Asian Games,” he said. “This will be a good chance for the women’s national team to continue to hone their skills.”
After taking on Australia, the Nationals will face Iran on Monday before squaring off with Kazakhstan in a rematch of their seventh place battle in the Asian Games a couple of weeks ago.
The top two teams after the round robin pool play will advance in the quarterfinals.
“I told the girls and coaches to continue learning from the exposure of playing against foreign teams,” added Cayco. “We will gain a lot from this experience.”
Back for another tour of duty are skipper Aby Marano, Cha Cruz-Behag, Maika Ortiz, Mylene Paat, Denden Lazaro and Mika Reyes, who helped the PHI finish eighth in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. Joining them are Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Risa Sato, Jasmine Nabor and Grethcel Soltones.
Six players who donned the tricolors in the Asiad skipped the tournament for various reasons.
Towering sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat are unavailable because of their commitments with their respective Japanese clubs, setter Kim Fajardo sustained a knee injury while De La Salle University players Kim Kianna Dy, Majoy Baron and 2017 Asian Seniors Women’s Volleyball Championship 2nd Best Libero Dawn Macandili are in New York.
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