In last year’s Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix, the Philips Gold Lady Slammers (formerly known as the Mane ‘N Tail Lady Stallions during the 2015 Grand Prix) paraded the import tandem of Kristy Jaeckel from the University of Florida and Kaylee Manns from Iowa State.
Now, with Philips Gold aiming to make a strong push in their upcoming GP campaign, the team is set to field in its new imports namely Alexis Olgard from the University of Southern California (USC) and Bojana Todorovic from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Standing at 6-foot-5 and one of the highly-touted recruits during her NCAA years, Olgard’s competitive edge and veteran savvy immediately gives the Lady Slammers a massive upgrade at their middle blocker slot.
“I am a quiet but effective player. I am extremely competitive and hate to lose. So with that being said, I will play as hard as I can to get us where we want to be as a team,” Olgard said in an exclusive interview with Tiebreaker Times. “I was extremely excited when I was approached by Philips Gold. I can’t wait to get there and work with the girls and coaches to win it all!”
“As a middle blocker I would say my height helps me a lot with blocking as well as hitting. I am able to occupy a lot of area when blocking and I can easily hit over people. I would also say I am a focused and calm player so in tight situations I am able to keep a level head and play through intense situations.”
Some of Olgard’s key highlights during her four-year career with the USC Trojans was being named to the Pac-10 Conference All-Freshman Team during her rookie year in 2010 and Pac-12 All-Conference and AVCA Pacific South All-Region Team honors during her senior year.
Furthermore, Olgard’s USC squads were always consistent title contenders as they always landed in the Elite 8 and netted Final Four appearances twice during 2010 and 2011.
“My previous experiences have helped me immensely! At USC I was able to help my team make it to the NCAA Championship Tournament all four years I was attending,” she added.
After a successful collegiate career, Olgard took part in the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball team that competed during the 2014 NORCECA World Championship Qualification. She also got her first taste of professional volleyball action as she suited up for VT Aurubis Hamburg in Germany on the same year.
“In Hamburg I was able to help a team go from not winning one game the season prior to getting them into the playoffs. I think all of these experiences have helped me become the player I am today because they have taught me how to be resilient, tenacious, and determined to get where we need to go as a team.”
Now, with all the experience she amassed, Olgard will take her talents before the passionate Filipino volleyball crowd. With volleyball on the rise here in the country, Olgard will surely find her place among fans and enthusiasts alike.
“I am so excited to play for a volleyball driven country. Outside of college the U.S. doesn’t seem to recognize indoor volleyball the way other countries around the world do,” she shared. “I have only heard amazing things about the Philippines and it will be such an honor to play for Philips Gold and share our success as a team, not only with each other, but with our fans as well.”
In an effort to add more firepower to their offense, Philips Gold tapped the services of UCLA’s Bojana Todorovic to bolster its open spiker depth. Standing at 5-foot-11 and the former libero of the US Women’s U23 National Volleyball Team, Todorovic also gives an immediate boost to the team’s net and floor defense that is currently anchored by team captain Michele Gumabao and Melissa Gohing.
“My first impressions of Philips Gold were that they are more than ready to honor their name and truly go for the gold!” Todorovic told in an exclusive interview with Tiebreaker Times. “The coaches and managers approached me in a very professional manner, explained all the details clearly, and welcomed me with open arms. It already feels like I am a part of a new family! I can’t wait.”
During her collegiate career for the UCLA Bruins, Todorovic was part of the 2011 UCLA Bruins team that won the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Title against Illinois. Also, she had an All-Pac-10 Freshman team during her rookie year in 2009 and she is also a three-time Academic All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention selection.
“Playing for UCLA in the NCAA championships made me the player I am today. It gave a new perspective of the game, gave me the physical training to get stronger than I have ever been, and taught me how to perform at my best under high pressure,” she added. “It wasn’t easy, but nothing worth fighting for is easy. I learned how to fight until I have nothing left, to push my limits so that I can reach new barriers, and to enjoy every minute of it.”
Aside from being a proven scorer, Todorovic’s vast experience will also be a big boost for Philips Gold’s Grand Prix campaign. In a pressure-packed import-laden conference, she will surely be a calming presence and she can also be the glue that binds them together.
“My greatest strength in volleyball is my ability to bring a team together and bring the best out of every player. That is my goal,” Todorovic remarked. “I have no doubt I will do my part physically, but No matter how good one player is athletically, they cannot succeed without their teammates. It’s not about me, but about US.”
“I actually love the pressure! It’s what I thrive on as a competitive athlete. It will challenge me and inspire me to work even harder for my team. There is nothing like the thrill of working hard, giving everything you have for your volleyball family, and knowing that no matter what happens, you will do it together.”
Now, with Olgard and Todorovic manning the helm for the Lady Slammers foreign reinforcements, the passionate Filipino crowd will also be a big part of their campaign moving forward. Knowing how much energy they give to a team through their unwavering support, both imports will surely make it a point to give it their all in every game they play.
“I’m excited beyond belief to meet the Philippine volleyball fans I have heard so much about. I don’t know if they know this, but they have an international reputation for being the best, most devoted, and most enthusiastic fans in ALL of volleyball! The fans are just as much a part of a team’s success as the players themselves and I can’t wait to feel the energy the Filipino fans are going to bring to the gym!”
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