SEASONED spiker Aiza Maizo-Pontillas kept modest expectations on her chances to make the final cut after being named to the 25-woman pool of the Philippine women's volleyball team.
The 29-year old Petron ace faces stiff competition from Jovelyn Gonzaga of Cignal, Kim Dy of La Salle and Jaja Santiago of National University for the opposite spiker position of the RP team that will see action in the 29th Southeast Asian Games on August 19-31 in Malaysia.
Despite her credentials and international experience, she is not as confident about her inclusion in the final lineup as she goes up against her younger counterparts.
Maizo-Pontillas first wore the tricolors in 2007 when she was 18 years old and during that time Gonzaga was still in Guimaras dreaming of becoming a volleyball player someday, while Dy and Santiago were still elementary students with no idea that they would be volleyball stars.
“Hindi pa natin sure na mapapasok sa pang SEA Games na laro eh, syempre malalakas rin ang mga kapwestuhan ko, at saka mga bata pa kaya hindi pa natin malalaman kung ano ang mangyayari,” she said.
The former University of Santo Tomas captain, who took a leave from volleyball after she gave birth four years ago, stressed that age is catching up on her, while Gonzaga, 25, Dy, 21, and Santiago, 21, are still peaking.
Gonzaga and Santiago teamed up for the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in September and the FIVB Women's Club World Championship in October, while Dy bagged a championship with the Lady Spikers in the UAAP Season 78 and with F2 Logistics in the Philippine Super Liga All-Filipino.
“Sa ngayon nangangamba pa rin ako, hindi pa rin ako kampante na makakapasok talaga doon sa cut na ‘yun na makakasama pa ako,” she said. “Kasi syempre mga bata pa at saka mabibilis na rin sila.”
The pride of Iloilo, however, knows how to turn age into an advantage.
“Siguro, lamang ko na lang siguro is pagiging magulang, dahil magulang na ako, gugulangan ko na lang sila,” said the mother of a four-year old little boy, Arron, with a laugh.
But turning serious, Maizo-Pontillas was just relieved that her inclusion in the pool did not create as much noise two years ago when she was dropped out of the lineup for then Ateneo rookie Bea de Leon.