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2016 FIVB Women's CWC

PSL All-Stars to kick off FIVB Women’s CWC campaign against Rexona Ades

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Tough competition awaits the Philippine Superliga All-Star squad when they march to the 2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship from October 18 to 23 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The home team landed in a very tough group in Pool A, together with European champions Pomi Casalmaggiore of Italy, South American powerhouse Rexona Ades of Brazil, and Eczacibasi Vitra Istanbul of Turkey following the drawing of lots last week.

The PSL stars will kick off their bid on October 18 against the Brazilians. They will then have a one-day break before facing the Italians and the Turkish for a chance to move past the group stages, which will be played the following day.

Pool B, on the other hand, features Asian powerhouse teams Bangkok Glass of Italy and Hisamitsu Springs of Japan, as well as VakifBank Istanbul of Turkey and Volero Zurich.

“Nothing will be easy. We have to work hard to give these giants a very good fight,” said PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara, who also presides the local organizing committee of the tournament.

The PSL All-Star team already introduced their six local players; Rachel Anne Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga of RC Cola-Army, Jaja Santiago of Foton, Kim Fajardo of F2 Logistics, and Ces Molina and Jen Reyes of Petron. The last local player will be named on Thursday when the league rolls into De La Salle Lipa Sentrum in Lipa City.

PSL chairman Philip Ella Juico said the team will be powered by seven foreign players and, probably, a foreign mentor to make it even more competitive.

No names have been mentioned, but negotiations with the foreigners are already in full swing.

“We have to form the best team possible,” said Juico, a former PSC chairman who now heads the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association.

“The goal is not only to put on a good show, but also expose our young players to world-class competitions, something which we will need in future major international tournaments.”

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2016 FIVB Women's CWC

Gabi another testament to Pinoys’ love for Brazilian volleyball

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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.BVR Invitational Day 3 Sand roots - Adachi-8369

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.fivb-cwc-rexona-sesc-rio-vs-hisamitsu-springs-gabriela-braga-guimaraes-2892

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.”

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2016 FIVB Women's CWC

The Magnificent 7 assessed by foreign coaches

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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.fivb-cwc-psl-f2-logistics-manila-vs-eczacibasi-vitra-istanbul-ceylan-arisan-1510

“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.fivb-cwc-psl-f2-logistics-manila-vs-eczacibasi-vitra-istanbul-jaja-santiago-ces-molina-1500

“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.

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2016 FIVB Women's CWC

2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship Awarding Ceremony

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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)

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1st Best Outside Hitter: Zhu Ting (Vakifbank Istanbul)

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2nd Best Outside Hitter: Tatiana Kosheleva (Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul)

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1st Best Middle Blocker: Foluke Akinradewo (Volero Zurich)

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2nd Best Middle Blocker: Milena Rasic (Vakifbank Istanbul)

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Best Libero: Fabiana Oliveira (Rexona-Sesc Rio)

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Best Setter: Carli Lloyd (Pomi Casalmaggiore)

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Best Opposite Hitter: Tijana Boskovic (Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul)

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Most Valuable Player: Tijana Boskovic (Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul)

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THE PODIUM


Third Place: Vakifbank Istanbul

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Second place: Pomi Casalmaggiore

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Champions: Eczacibasi VitrA Istanbul

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2016 FIVB Women's CWC

19-year old Serbian wunderkind Boskovic wins WCWC MVP

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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.

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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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