By EUGENE FLORES
WOMEN’S national team captain Aby Maraño knows exactly how strong their opponents will be in their three major international volleyball tournaments this year.
That’s why Maraño wants the national pool to make the most out of their longer preparation this time.
“Maitutulong nito yung mahabang preparation mas marami tayong magagawa, mas maraming time para mas makondisyon katawan namin, mas mag-jell kami ng mas maaga ngayon,” said the F2 Logistics star, who was among the 37 players that attended the first day of the national pool expansion tryouts of the Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas Inc. on Thursday at the Arellano School of Law Gym along Taft Ave. in Manila.
“Unlike before na nagttraining tayo isang buwan lang yung preparation, tatlong buwan. So parang hindi talaga nagiging solid yung team eh, yung jelling,” she added. “So importante na mas mahaba yung preparation. That's why it's very good we started early.”
The Filipinas are set to play multiple tournaments including the AVC Asian Women's Club Volleyball Championship in China on April 20-28, the 20th Asian Senior Women's Championship in South Korea from August 31 to September 8, and the 30th Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines from November 30 to December 10.
Maraño, who is already part of the pool also led by Alyssa Valdez under national head coach Shaq Delos Santos, said that those tournaments will bring Philippine volleyball to a higher level.
“Definitely mas aangat yung level ng volleyball kasi every year nakita ko nag-iimprove bawat teams ng Asia,” said Maraño, who saw action in last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta and AVC Cup in Thailand.
“So if ever we go against this team like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and whatever teams pa. For sure yan, nag-improve sila. So I expect na mas mataas yung level ng volleyball na makakaharap namin don, so dapat maka-keep up kami don.”
LVPI will also form a pool for the Under-23 women’s team that will see action in the third Asian Women's Under-23 Volleyball Championship in Vietnam on July 13-21.
Maraño, the former De La Salle star who has been with the National team since 2015, was also elated to see new faces that bring hope for the future of Philippine volleyball, impressed with Cocolife’s Fil-Am star Kalei Mau, UST’s rookie sensation Eya Laure and UAAP Season 81 Girls’ volleyball champs Angel Canino and Alleiah Malaluan.
"Na-surprise ako don sa bata si Alleiah yung sa under-23, si Laure and that girl (Kalei Mau),” she said. “Sobrang potential nakakatuwa kasi at their age ang ganda ng basic nila sa volleyball, yung volleyball IQ nila and skills. So excited ako for them sa under-23."