Coming from a two-year hiatus due to an ACL injury, Jovelyn Gonzaga simply wanted to regain form and play to her heart’s content when she made her return to competitive volleyball.
Given her two-way arsenal that hasn’t lost its edge to go along with her zeal for the sport and the resolve to battle through fatigue, the 5-foot-7 lefty gunner has been tapped to carry flag and country anew.
“Sobrang akong thankful kasi kino-consider pa rin nila ako in spite na galing ako sa matagal na pahinga from injury,” the proud daughter of Guimaras bared.
Gonzaga’s return to national duty started when National beach volleyball coach Paul Jan Doloiras reached out for her services. And for someone who is not foreign to international sand court competitions, the decision came easy.
The product of Central Philippine University joined the beach volleyball pool, which consists of the prolific tandem of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons, Dzi Gervacio, and a pair of standouts from UST.
But while Doloiras and his sand-based program opened the doors for Gonzaga’s return to the national duty, it’s going to be the indoor program that’ll ease her back to the international stage.
Gonzaga disclosed that Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. came knocking on her door to bolster the Philippine National Women’s Volleyball team, where five players have withdrawn from duty.
Having been invited to two distinct programs, Gonzaga, the captain of the indoor squad that competed in the 2015 SEA Games, admitted that she couldn’t pick one. So, she entrusted the decision to her beach volleyball mentor.
“Nu’ng nag-approach sa akin sa indoor sabi ko kasi naka-commit na ako [sa beach volleyball]. Sabi ko sige try niyo kausapin si coach Dolo para with all due respect kasi siya ang unang nag-offer sa akin,” Gonzaga confided.
“Kung okay kay Coach Dolo, go ako. Pero kung hindi, okay lang din kasi win-win naman. Love ko pareho so kung ako papipillin mahihirapan talaga ako.”
Doloiras gave Gonzaga the green light to be a part of the indoor squad. She — along with Roselyn Doria and Maddie Madayag — was among the three players tapped by LVPI in order to strengthen the training pool.
“Sobrang thankful ako kay coach Dolo for understanding my case. And sa indoor naman naiintindihan din nila,” she expressed.
“Sabi ko nga kung ano ang mas [mabuti] para sa akin go lang. As long as para sa bandera ng Pilipinas okay ako wala akong problema doon.”
Gonzaga made it known though that her sights aren’t set on whether or not she makes the final cut. Still, one thing is for sure — she’s going to give it her all in every step of the way en route to the Southeast Asian Games.
“Wala akong expectations kung ila-lineup pa ako sa final lineup or what basta nandito lang ako. Pupunta ako sa trainings kung pinapapapunta ako,” she confided.
“Basta ang alam ko kapag kinuha ako magko-commit ako fully.”
Having received the call of national duty after a long-layoff from the sport, Gonzaga bared that she’s beyond grateful for the good faith she has received yet again.
“Ang pag-consider sa akin na i-include sa pool napakalaking bagay na para ma-boost ulit ang morale ko since naglaro ako ng SEA Games noong 2017. Malaking bagay kasi SEA Games yun and dito pa sa Philippines iho-hold,” she shared.
“Thankful ako kasi na-consider ako ng indoor, yun ang nararamdaman ko ngayon. Na parang yung tiwala na pinagkakatiwalaan pa rin nila ako.”