Come the 2019 Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Championships from July 4 to 10, the Philippine Women’s Under-23 National Volleyball team will take center stage.
FEU middle blocker Celine Domingo will take on the mantle of captain for the youth-laden squad, which includes Mafe Galanza, Lyn Galdones, Ysa Jimenez, Maji Mangulabnan, Rachelle Roldan, Imee Hernandez, and Janna Torres of UST; Angel Canino of DLSZ; Ivanna Agudo and Lyann De Guzman of FEU; Rossie Rosier and Jewel Encarnacion of UP; and Justine Jazareno of DLSU.
Though the squad is composed of high school and collegiate wunderkinds, youth team head coach Kung Fu Reyes confided that they can fare well with older competition. He cited their scrimmage with the seniors’ squad as proof.
Reyes was also surprised with the cohesion and chemistry that his youth-laden squad has showcased within a short amount of time training as a unit.
“Akala ko nga matagal na magkakasama yung mga players eh. Sa ensayo, ka-scrimmage namin yung National team natin. Tignan mo yung full potential, ang ganda,” Reyes bared. “Very thankful nga kami sa mga bata na ‘to na maging available at i-represent yung bansa natin despite na oras na limitado.
“Iisa naman halos yung sistema ng mga coaches, kaya kapag pinagsama-sama mo, parang ang tagal ng magkakasama. It’s a matter of jelling na lang. Pero yung ensayo namin kahapon nga, maganda na yung transition namin.”
The coinciding schedules between the invitational tournament and the local club leagues has caused players to be unavailable to represent flag and country. Still, Reyes sees this as nothing but a blessing in disguise as he looks ahead for the country’s volleyball program.
“Siyempre ang aim namin is pumasok kami ng top eight,” asserted Reyes when asked about their target coming into the said tourney. “Pero again, ito yung mga program natin sa grassroots. Siyempre anong iaangat mo dito – manalo ka dito, may talunin ka dito, magiging proud tayo in a way.
“Pero yung exposure outside Metro Manila o outside Philippines, malaking bagay para in the future. Sabi ko nga, in five years time, ito na yung papalit para sa National team natin. Pero marami pa ring nakakalat na well-experienced, well-seasoned players na supposedly sila yung andiyan.”