JOVELYN Gonzaga is ready to pass the torch if the Philippine women’s volleyball team fields the next generation in future international tournaments.
Gonzaga proved to be one of the best spikers in the country even without the exposure in the UAAP or NCAA as she won several titles and individual awards both in the Philippine Superliga and Premier Volleyball League, including the former Shakey's V-League.
The down-to-earth athlete from Guimaras also earned once in a life time experience as part of the seven Filipina players, who played in the country's hosting of the FIVB Women's World Club Championship last 2016.
The only missing piece in her storied career is a Southeast Asian Games medal after failing to reach the podium in all her three stints since 2015.
Despite the heartbreaking stints, the star opposite spiker is still eager to end the country's medal drought in the biennial tournament, if she gets another call-up for a possible fourth straight appearance in Vietnam next year.
If not, the 28-year-old is willing to give way to the new generation as she is already grateful for all the years she served the national team.
“Hindi pa natin alam kung nandoon pa tayo pero siyempre lagi ko namang sinasabi sa coaching staff pag kailangan niyo ako, nandito ako,” Gonzaga told Spin.ph. “Pag hindi niyo ako kailangan andito pa rin ako to support the national team. Magpe-pray and magsusupport.”
“Kung may mas bata na alam naman nating deserving talaga. Okay yun walang problema sa akin susuportahan natin yun,” she added.
For Gonzaga, it's about time to prepare the younger volleyball stars since their batch failed to reach the podium for the past three editions -- capped by last year's heartbreaking five-set meltdown to Indonesia in front of the home crowd.
“Kasi para sa akin mas maigi nga na magsimula ang mga bata tapos palaguin nila, pagsamahin nila. Wag na magbago bago. Mas okay sa akin yun," said Gonzaga, who returned from an ACL injury last year after missing the volleyball scene in 2018.
“Kasi ako ha? Ilang years na ba tayong hindi nakakakuha ng podium finish sa national team. Chance na sana natin last year, daig pa namin ang naheart broken, daig pa namin ang hiniwalayan ng jowa. Sobrang sakit kasi ang dami mo ng pinuhunan doon dugo’t pawis na literal lahat na binigay pero hindi pa din," she added.
When asked who could be her heir apparent in the national team, Gonzaga has three young spikers in mind.
Her picks are Philippine women's squad rookie Eya Laure and national youth team players Angel Canino of De La Salle-Zobel and Alyssa Solomon of Nazareth School of National University.
Laure had a rousing rookie season last year after leading University of Santo Tomas to the 2019 UAAP Finals and also played instrumental in her SEA Games debut.
Former UAAP girls' MVP Canino has been showing maturity beyond years after the high school sensation turned heads during the national pool tryouts and the Under-23 women's team's stint in the Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Championship last year.
The 6-foot-2 Solomon, an incoming Lady Bulldog for next season, has proved to be ready for the seniors division after leading Nazareth School to a perfect season and winning the Best Opposite Spiker.
The all-around skills and resiliencency of these three players impressed Gonzaga.
“Nakikita ko yung pagkabuo ng skills nila. Hindi lang sa atake kungdi all around sila. ako pag nag titingin kasi ako ng isang player no offense ha, opinion ko ‘to, mas naappreciate ko yung player na all around,” Gonzaga said.
“And yung puso nila sa laro. Yan ung mga nakikita ko na dahilan bakit (sila yung pwedeng pumalit sa position ko).”
Gonzaga believes that the future of Philippine volleyball is in good hands with the young Filipina spikers and she hopes that the next generation will get better and continuous program.
“Sana. Praying and hoping na ganon yung mangyayari kung mas bata sana mas maitanim, mas mabuo, mas mabigyan ng magandang fertilizer para mas yumabong," Gonzaga said.