Before she became one of the best figures in the indoor volleyball scene, Jovelyn Gonzaga was the undisputed queen of beach volleyball.
Gonzaga represented Central Philippines University in countless beach volleyball competitions in the past, collecting accolades left and right including three straight Nestea Beach championships before she would eventually top plenty of indoor volleyball tournaments as well.
On Saturday, Gonzaga will again have a chance of adding to her impressive resume on the sand courts when the Philippine Superliga Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup 2016 kicks off at the Sands SM By The Bay.
“Excited, but at the same time, walang feeling na complacent ka, kasi ang mga makakalaban mo dito, mga hindi basta-basta. May excitement na kasama. Kailangan pa mag-focus lalo na’t galing kami sa two weeks break,” the 24-year-old Gonzaga said.
The MVP of the recently-concluded 2016 PSL Invitational will team up with fellow veteran Nene Bautista for RC Cola-Army A, and is set to compete in Pool D.
Gonzaga said she expects nothing but the best competition in the tournament, and the duo is keen on working double-time to achieve ideal form.
“Ang hirap mangapa kasi kalaban mo dito, init, buhangin. So kailangan double-time pa para mahabol yung endurance mo. It will be tough kasi hindi basta-basta ang teams at gusto nila i-present anong meron ang team nila. Basta nag-usap na kami ni Nene, we have to double-time,” Gonzaga shared.
“Kami naman competitors since 2011 and nag-co-compete kami until now, maski sa mga ibang liga. Ang mindset naman namin, once we step on the court, gusto namin manalo. Wala kaming iniisip na kahit ano.”
“We trust each other din kasi yung confidence namin sa isa’t isa, malaki. Siguro yun yung makakatulong sa amin para maipanalo ito,” Gonzaga added.
Gonzaga said such tournament is also important for Philippine beach volleyball in general as it provides exposure and a training ground for some of the best athletes in the discipline.
“Napakalaki rin, kasi hindi basta-basta ang kalaban ang ang galing, kasi kanya-kanyang universities and teams. Kumuha talaga sila ng best players para mag-compete dito. Sobrang level up na siya compared sa competition before,” Gonzaga said.
Looking at it long term, Gonzaga is hopeful beach volleyball continues to garner attention.
“Noong 2011, maganda na naipakita (ng Pilipinas). Kaso bigla na lang nawala. Nakakalungkot lang kasi andun na sana yung Philippine beach volleyball,” Gonzaga said.
“That time, akala mamin magtutuloy-tuloy na (kaso nawala). So nakakatuwa na yung PSL, nag-put up ng ganitong paliga para ma-hone yung talent namin and hopefully maging stage siya for international competition. Kasi yung indoor natin, lumelevel-up na rin eh. Hopefully, beach volleyball, matutukan.”