One of the many rigors that come with being an enlisted Army personnel is the mandatory training.
Army’s ace spiker Jovely Gonzaga could possibly miss participating in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship due to the Candidate Soldier Training which she, and several other Lady Troopers, will undertake.
Gonzaga revealed that the CST, a six to eight-month course, may start on October 1. The Club World Championship, on the other hand, runs from October 18 to 23.
While Gonzaga is fully committed to play for Foton in the AVC Women’s Club Championships, she is still awaiting further orders from Army for her participation in the Worlds.
“Ang tentative start date ng training is October 1 so hindi ko pa alam doon sa Worlds. Depende pa siguro sa pag-uusap ng LVPI and Army. Pero sa AVC, sure ako,” said the Guimaras native, adding that she is optimistic that her training schedule can still change to accommodate her Worlds stint.
Although playing in a world-level tournament has always been her dream, Gonzaga understands that these types of commitments are part of every military personnel’s life.
“So no cellphones, no connection to the outside world talaga kami habang nasa training kami. Nature ng work namin to kaya hindi na mabigat sa amin ‘to,” remarked the PSL Invitational Cup MVP.
More than anything, Gonzaga is worrried that the long layoff will cause her to lose progress in her still-developing volleyball career.
“Nagwo-worry nga ako kasi nandito na ako sa level na almost hindi na ako naii-stress o nape-pressure sa game ko,” admitted the 24-year-old lefty.
Just recently, Gonzaga carried the Lady Troopers on her back during the final stretch of the PSL All-Filipino Cup. She averaged close to 21 points per game, with nearly double-digit digging and receiving averages, to help Army salvage a bronze finish to their injury-marred season.
“Nakakapanghinayang nga lang kasi ‘yung nangyari sa team ay hindi fault ng kahit sino sa amin – accident lang talaga ‘yung mga injury,” concluded Gonzaga.
“Ako binigay ko lang talaa lahat ko for Army kasi ayaw kong matapos ang season namin ng ganoon lang. At least, hanggang sa huli, lumaban kami.”
Gabi another testament to Pinoys’ love for Brazilian volleyball
Filipino volleyball fans have a long-standing affinity for Brazilian volleyball players.
The love first sprouted when volleyball legend Leila Barros visited the country in the early 2000’s to play in prestigious tournaments.
The country then latched onto setter Erica Adachi who, after her first run as a PSL import in 2014, decided she had to come back and play a second conference with the Petron Blaze Spikers. In the 2015 Grand Prix, Adachi brought along fellow Brazilan Rupia Inck who also endeared herself to the locals.
So when Brazilian club team Rexona-Sesc traveled to the Philippines to play in the 2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship, it was no surprise that the fans found another crowd-favorite.
Rexona fielded a lineup of some of the youngest Brazilian National Team players and aspirants. Among them, 22-year-old open hitter Gabi Guimaraes shone the most, leading her squad in scoring through most of Rexona’s fifth-place campaign.
While her stay was short, Gabi easily endeared herself to the local, volleyball-crazy fans with her incredible skill and charm.
“It’s crazy. The Philippine people remind a lot of the people back in my country – very friendly, always smiling, and there seems to be a lot of volleyball fans. I’m very thankful to the fans here for making us feel welcome,” said the Minas Gerais native.
Like many other foreigners before her, Gabi insists that she will one day come back to experience more of the Philippines.
“I would love to come back. It’s a really nice place although I won’t be here for too long. I heard that there’s really nice shopping here and the beaches around the country are fanulous. If there’s an opportunity, I’m definitely open to playing here.”
Gabi is one of the main cogs of Brazil’s effort to rebuild its aging National Team. After winning gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, the celebrated pillars of Brazil’s squad showed their age in the 2016 Rio Olympics, bowing out to eventual gold medalists China in the quarterfinals.
At 1.76 m, Gabi is short compared to the behemoths that rule women’s volleyball today, so she knows developing technique is crucial if she wants to help Brazil to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“There are a lot of really tall players out there now so I know I will have to get with my technique and keep working hard in practice. The goal is definitely to make it back to the Olympic games.”
The Magnificent 7 assessed by foreign coaches
A week ago, the PSL-F2 Logistics Manila squad embarked on a historic campaign in the 2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championships — the first time the Philippines has hosted a world-class competition in more than a decade — at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The host squad included seven of the best local PSL players – Jaja Santiago, Kim Fajardo, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Rachel Daquis, Jen Reyes, Ces Molina, and Mika Reyes – who got the chance to test their mettle against women’s volleyball’s best.
The act of hosting has greatly helped bring attention back to Philippine volleyball, which has been dormant in international competitions for the better part of the past decade.
The competition also gave outsiders a look at the level of talent in Philippine volleyball, which trended worldwide on Twitter whenever there would be a major local competition.
While most coaches admittedly saw that Filipina players still had a long way to go before legitimately qualifying for world-level tournaments, they did point out that the base for a successful program was present.
Giovanni Caprara, who steered Pomi Casalmaggiore to a surprising silver-medal finish in the Women’s CWC, singled out Fajardo and Santiago as the players who have most potential.
Most coaches, on other hand, gave a more general evaluation rather than looking at individual talents.
Legendary head coach Bernardo Rezende, who has won at virtually every level of volleyball and mentored a young Rexona-Sesc squad to fifth in the Women’s CWC, complimented the Filipinas’ fighting spirit.
“I thought they competed at every point they really fought it out. And you need that in your players: You can teach skills and, of course, height is a factor, but the fighting spirit and the hunger to win are hard to find in players. I loved their fighting spirit,” said Rezende.
The local style of play also drew comparison to the prevalent low-fast style in Asia. Massimo Barbolini, who coached Eczacibasi VitrA to the World championship, found that his European players had trouble adjusting to PSL’s quickness when they faced off in the elimination round.
“It’s always difficult when you face a team that’s trying to play fast. My players aren’t used to this. It’s always interesting to play against Asian volleyball teams because they make up for their lack in centimeters with technique and pace so they can compete in these type of tournaments,” Barboulini shared.
For his part, Vakifbank Istanbul and Dutch National Team head coach Giovanni Guidetti was also fascinated with the Asian style of play. But he doubts any team that lacks height will ever win gold at the Olympics or even in the World Club Championship.
“A lot of volleyball involves jumping high and reaching high so no, I think the taller players will always have an advantage. Maybe if there was a way to combine playing fast with tall players but then the tall players would not be as agile,” Guidetti reflected.
“But I think it’s great that teams like Thailand, Japan, and some of your Philippine players can still compete despite their lack in centimeter. It’s still beautiful to watch the fast and combination plays.”
Regardless of style, the general consensus among coaches was the need for continued participation in international tournaments.
“I think what’s important for any program is just to continue preparing for and participating in international events. Being able to play in the World Club Tournament is great, but that’s just one tournament in the year. The only real way for teams and players to improve is to be exposed to international competition regularly,” said Rezende.
2017 is building up to be a busy year for Philippine volleyball, with the AVC Seniors tournament and the SEA Games on deck.
2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship Awarding Ceremony
After Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul defended their FIVB World Grand Prix title against Pomi Casalmaggiore, the tournament held an awarding ceremony to give due recognition to the individuals that stood out in the respective fields:
Rexona Movers of the Game: Lindsay Stalzer and Yuri Fukuda (PSL-F2 Logistics Manila)
1st Best Outside Hitter: Zhu Ting (Vakifbank Istanbul)
2nd Best Outside Hitter: Tatiana Kosheleva (Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul)
1st Best Middle Blocker: Foluke Akinradewo (Volero Zurich)
2nd Best Middle Blocker: Milena Rasic (Vakifbank Istanbul)
Best Libero: Fabiana Oliveira (Rexona-Sesc Rio)
Best Setter: Carli Lloyd (Pomi Casalmaggiore)
Best Opposite Hitter: Tijana Boskovic (Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul)
Most Valuable Player: Tijana Boskovic (Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul)
Third Place: Vakifbank Istanbul
Second place: Pomi Casalmaggiore
Champions: Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul
19-year old Serbian wunderkind Boskovic wins WCWC MVP
Having shown unmatched power, especially in her position, Serbian National Team standout Tijana Boskovic added the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship award to her resumé after leading Eczacibasi VitrA to the title earlier today.
The 19-year-old opposite hitter led the Serbian National Team to a surprising silver finish in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Averaging over 20 points per game, Boskovic clinched the MVP and the Best Opposite Hitter plum in the most stacked WCWC tournament ever.
“I’m honored to win award. I played against lot of great players in the tournament. This has been great experience for me. It will be very memorable because it’s also my first time in the Philippines,” said Boskovic, who was tagged as the future of volleyball in several global publications.
2016 Olympics MVP Vakifbank’s Zhu Ting took home the First Best Open Hitter plum, while Russian National Team standout Eczacibasi’s Tatiana Kosheleva clinched the Second Best Open Hitter recognition.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Rexona-Sesc’s Fabi Oliveira was named the Best Libero, while Pomi Casalmaggiore’s American setter, Carli Lloyd, was deemed as the Best Setter.
USA National Team powerhouse Foluke Akinradewo was hailed the First Best Middle Blocker, while Milena Rasic of Vakifbank took home Second Best Middle Blocker.
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