News broke out before F2 Logistics’ match against Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh on Friday that Cargo Movers’ setter, Iris Tolenada, has inked a deal with GS Caltex Seoul, a team in the Korean Volleyball League.
With this development, Cargo Movers’ head coach, Regine Diego, knows that this move will contribute to the betterment of volleyball here in the Philippines, as Tolenada will head out to South Korea, one of the powerhouses in Asia.
This will also encourage volleyball players here in the country to try their luck abroad for more exposure and experience.
Tolenada was one of six Filipinas who applied for the first-ever KOVO Asian quota draft but was not picked. Only MJ Phillips was selected, getting picked by Gwangju AI Peppers at fifth, while Jia De Guzman, Majoy Baron, Dindin Manabat, and Mylene Paat also went undrafted.
The 5-foot-9 Filipino-American setter joined Phillips and Jaja Santiago as the Filipinas with contracts abroad. Marck Espejo and Bryan Bagunas are also signed up abroad on the men’s side.
“The team, the management, the team owners are very proud of what Iris received, this message yung makikita sila ng mga bata na going outside syempre boost ‘yun ng morale sa mga bata na ‘ay grabe si Ate Iris,’ so you know everybody wants to be next diba?” said Diego of Tolenada.
“Syempre mapapataas natin ‘yung level ng volleyball sa Pilipinas, diba? so represent lang Iris, we believe in you,” added Diego moments after their four-set win over Kinh Bac that sent them to the bronze medal match on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Tolenada shared that she has accepted that the Korea path has not worked out after the draft back in April.
However, just recently, she received a message intending that a team from the KVL wants her service as an Asian quota import.
Her team, GS Caltex, originally picked Medi Yoku of Indonesia, an outside hitter. A month ago, they then announced that they have brought in Thai setter Soraya Phomla to replace the Indonesian.
Then the announcement came today that the Kixx have inked Tolenada for the 2023-24 season.
“It’s kinda crazy,” quipped Tolenada, who has yet to play in the ongoing 2023 Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference.
“So I was part of the KOVO draft and I didn’t get chosen, and that was okay with me. You go into these things hoping for the best and being okay if you aren’t chosen; it’s just not your time,” continued the playmaker.
“But I got a text saying that a team from Korea wants me, so I’m just very fortunate enough to be selected, and I’m just excited and grateful.”
Tolenada will just fix her papers and will travel to South Korea right away to start training with GS Caltex.
Meanwhile, her teammate Baron is in full support of Tolenada, who is about to embark on a journey many athletes dream of – playing abroad.
“Very happy and inggit ako kay Iris kasi what a great opportunity na makapaglaro sa ibang bansa. Wish you luck! Good luck!” said Baron, who made 20 points against Bac Ninh.