Before taking indoor volleyball by storm with multiple championships and individual distinctions across her name, Jovelyn Gonzaga was an undisputed queen of the beach volleyball scene.
The 23-year-old lass from Iloilo was almost unblemished when it came to the sands, and a testament to her prowess is winning multiple trophies in beach volleyball tournaments with Central Philippines University, and also participating in international meets.
Gonzaga visited the PSL Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup Saturday, primarily to visit former teammate Fiola Ceballos, and was amazed herself to see how far the sport has reached.
“Dati kasi hindi pa ganoong katutok sa beach volleyball. Ngayon nga lang ako nakapunta rito at sobra akong na-amaze dahil may part pala na ganito sa Manila,” Gonzaga talked about the venue, which is adjacent to the Manila Bay.
“Ang ganda ng buhangin, ang ganda ng ambiance. Pang beach volleyball talaga. Kailan lang tayo nagsimula pero ngayon nakikita mo na yung pagsibol ng beach volleyball. Ang sarap sa feeling and I know malayo pa ang mararating nito.”
Ceballos herself is a big name in beach volleyball and already won a match for her team, the Foton Tornadoes, making Gonzaga even happier as the latter observed from the sidelines.
“Nakaka-proud. Noong nakaraang mga games niya hindi ako nakapanood so ngayon nag-free talaga ako para sa kaniya,” Gonzaga shared.
When it comes to international competitions, the left-handed spiker also added she sees the Philippines excelling in beach volleyball if given proper attention and a long-term program to boost it.
“Yung beach volleyball [natin], malaki talaga ang edge niya. Sa SEA Games, malaki ang chance na magkaroon ng place. Kaya lang minsan nagbubuo tayo at [nawawala] rin. Feeling ko training program lang talaga na long-term, siguro ako na [aangat]. Kung matutukan lang ang beach volleyball sa Pilipinas, hindi imposible dahil ang daming potensyal ng bansa,” she said, even recalling a tournament she and Nene Bautista joined a few years back.
“Advantage natin ay ang daming willing matuto sa beach volleyball. Napaka-unique na sport niya dahil dalawahan lang and ang daming potensyal na player na kung mate-train ng maayos, eeksena sila sa international scene.”
Asked about her plans to return to beach volleyball, Gonzaga bared there is still a possibility.
“May plan pa naman akong babalik, may kasabay lang talaga sa ibang tournaments.”