The status of Philippine volleyball was plain to see in Foton’s tilt against Japanese club NEC Red Rockets in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship at the Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
The Pinays were outclassed in every facet of volleyball. There were few short moments when Foton were able to keep up with the Red Rockets, but only because the Japanese let them stay close.
“We gained a lot of experience from the Japanese team. Alam namin na marami kaming pagkukulang. Malaking bagay sa amin na binigay ng NEC ‘yung best nila at hindi talaga nag-alinlangan,” said team captain Jaja Santiago.
“They were too strong to handle. Halata na iba talaga ang level ng training nila.
“Parang ever since kasi nagsisimula na sila mag-volleyball.
“Malaking bagay na sa amin na kahit papaano nakakasabay kami sa kanila. Maybe someday, makakagawa din ang Pilipinas ng foundation ng volleyball tulad ng sa kanila,” added local guest player Jovelyn Gonzaga.
According to Santiago, there was no sense of nervousness or tension throughout the team before the match. Instead, they were excited to face a world-class club squad.
“Motivated pa nga kami na kalabanin sila kasi iba ‘yung level ng paglalaro nila,” the 6’6″ middle hitter expressed.
For the spiking pride of Guimaras Gonzaga, the match illustrated how far the Philippines has to go before reaching the top teams in Asia.
“Dito natin kitang-kita ang difference ng level ng volleyball sa ibang bansa.
“Kailangan pa talaga natin i-level up ‘yung training and ‘yung discipline ng mga athlete,” lefty opposite Gonzaga concluded.