THE Philippine team is going to the 17thAsian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship in Thailand clearly aware of what to expect.
“This is a different level,” said team captain Angeli Tabaquero as she looked forward to the tough 16-nation tournament scheduled set from September 13 to 21.
“When we get there we will find out how the sport is now being played internationally. It's a challenge. But we will work harder to match the level of the other countries,” she added.
It’s the first international stint for members of the team sponsored by PLDT Home’s Fibr broadband. The last time a Philippine national squad was formed for the tournament was in 2005.
But it doesn’t mean that these tall and beautiful Pinay spikers, to be known as Power Pinays, will not aim high on in the event dominated by China, Japan, Thailand and South Korea since it was first held in 1975.
China has won the title a dozen times, Japan three times and Thailand once. Japan ruled the biennial event in 2007, Thailand in 2009 and China in 2011.
The Philippines, which used to do well in Asian volleyball, was fifth in 1983, 13th in 1991 and 1993, eighth in 1995, 1997 and 2003, and ninth in 2005.
The only time the Philippines hosted the event was in 1997 and the last time it fielded a team to the AVC was in 2005 in Taicang, China.
Philippine volleyball went stagnant until the rise of the Shakey's V-League helped the sport regain its popularity.
Earlier this year, the Philippine Super Liga, a club league, was also formed.
Gary Dujali, head of PLDT Home’s Fibr broadband, said their support to the team is part of PLDT/Smart big boss Manny V. Pangilinan’s advocacy for sports and youth development.
The Power Pinays are guaranteed to play seven matches in Thailand. They face India on September 13, Iran on September 14 and powerhouse China on September 15.
Head coach Nes Pamilar said if the Philippines wins two of its first three matches, it moves on to the quarterfinals. Otherwise, it is relegated to the classification matches.
The Power Pinays will earn the right to represent the country in the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar in December if they finish eighth or higher in the AVC.
“It’s very important for us to win the first game and hopefully move up,” said Ian Laurel, vice-president of Score, when the team was introduced to the press last Friday.
The other members of the team are Faye Guevarra, Wenneth Eulalio, Michelle Datuin, Sandra delos Santos, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Honey Royse Tubino, Analyn Joy Benito, Pau Soriano, Rosemarie Vargas, Lizlee Ann Gata-Pantone, Angela Banting, May Jennifer Macatuno, Jheck Dionela, Arianne Argarin, Chie Saet and Danika Gendrauli.
Aside from China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines, also vying in the AVC are Kazakhstan, Australia, India, Iran, Mongolia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Chinese-Taipei, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.