KALEI Mau’s ultimate goal is to wear the Pilipinas jersey and play at the highest level of volleyball if she will be given a chance to play in the three upcoming international tournaments of the women’s national volleyball team.
That’s why the Filipina-American spiker is elated and determined when she was invited to attend the two-day tryouts for the national pool expansion of the Larong Volleyball Sa Pilipinas Inc. conducted by Philippines head coach Shaq Delos Santos last Thursday and Friday at the Arellano School of Law Gym in Taft Avenue.
“My goal for myself and the reason why I play the sport is I’ve always wanted to put myself at the highest level of volleyball,” said Mau. “And having the opportunity, I had to grab it. So I’m really excited to be in the environment and just around some great volleyball players here in the Philippines.”
And among all the aspirants who attended the tryouts for the seniors national pool and Under-23 roster, Mau impressed Delos Santos and the other national team mainstays like team captain Aby Maraño.
“Siyempre for me si Mau. Siya ‘yung nag-stand out doon sa tryout,” said Delos Santos on the 6-foot-1 wing spiker of Cocolife. “Nakita namin siya noong PSL so nakita namin ‘yung quality kaya ininvite talaga namin siya na maging part ng national team kasi alam namin na malaki ang matutulong niya sa team.”
The Hawaii native, who played in Minnesota and Arizona in college, was flattered by all the praises and she is nothing but grateful to share the court with top volleyball players in the country like Maraño, Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado, Jema Galanza, and the other aspirants.
“If there are any big Hawaiian in this gym, I’m pretty sure you can’t miss me. Thank you coach Shaq, that’s a nice compliment but I’m a very big person, I know I stand out,” Mau said.
“The players have all the skills put together and that’s the kind of volleyball that I like to play,” she added. “I mean I’m always there for my teammates to progress but sometimes it’s really nice to just compete. And it’s another reminder why I play the sport.”
Mau was not 100 percent healthy last year when she was nursing a dislocated arm while still shining as Cocolife’s top scorer in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference, and was supposed to focus on her recovery.
But the former player of Mayaguez Indios in Puerto Rico from 2016-2017 before campaigning with Nantes Volley-Ball in France two years ago said that her dream to play for the national team gave her courage to tryout.
“I’ve come such a long way. I mean in the most humble way possible but I’m so proud of myself,” said Mau, who turned heads during the tryouts with her hard-hitting spikes. “Just when I arrived here in late August, I could barely put my hair up in a ponytail. So I’ve come a really long way. So I wanna give a huge thank you to Cocolife and my trainer Bethel Solano.”
With Delos Santos and the LVPI still deliberating on their plans of expanding the national pool for the seniors team, Mau is hoping to reach her goal of playing for the Philippines but if she won’t make it, she will not stop trying until she makes her dream come true.
“This is so important. I have a reason for everything and like I said, my goal is to play the highest level of volleyball,” Mau said. “And I would be disappointed if I don’t achieve that. If not, it’s okay. I’m still 23 years old and I can try again. But I’m not gonna give up. I really wanna see myself with the flag on my chest.”