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    Volleyball moments that defined this year's halted season 

    Dec 28, 2020

    NO sound of balls hitting the floor, no exhilirating screams from both ends of the court, no bodies colliding to save a single serve. No action at all.

    Unlike other activities like basketball or MMA or esports, volleyball seemed to be one of the most affected sporting events in the country after the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Earlier in March, the highly anticipated UAAP Season 82 only had two volleyball game days, while the Philippine SuperLiga was only able to accommodate three playdates before all events were adjourned all year round.

    Even without on-court action, athletes and the sport in itself just kept making it to the headlines.

    Here's a look back on the best moments that define this unique year in volleyball.

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    Premier Volleyball League turns pro

    In mid-November, PVL made history by taking its first gigantic steps to become the country's first-ever volleyball professional league.

    Established in 2004 as Shakey’s V-League, PVL rebranded in 2017, hosting several semi-pro club teams.

    Just last month, league commissioner Tony Boy Liao disclosed that the PVL successfully received a green light from the Games and Amusements Board to turn pro, targeting to open their conference in February 2021.

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    UAAP steps up to provide equal coverage for men's and women's volleyball

    Since the volleyball explosion of the past two decades, the limelight has always been focused only on the women's play. But this UAAP Season 82, the league pushed for equal opportunities, television air time-wise, for both women's and men's.

    Before the cancellation of the season, UAAP had fixed an alternating men's-women's schedule of games, allowing all games to be shown on-air.

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    Sibling rivalry as Laure and Maraguinot sisters reunite on the court

    Sister acts reunite, with the University of Santo Tomas' Laure and the Ateneo Lady Eagle's Maraguinot siblings.

    Eya Laure and sister EJ finally teamed up for the UST Growling Tigresses for Eya's sophomore year. EJ had just come back from a two-year layoff due to a shoulder injury, while Eya continued to impress after a breakout Season 81 that earned her Rookie of the Year honors.

    Both were essential pieces to UST's games as the Tigresses finished with a 1-1 record.

    Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles girded themselves to defend their title, as Jho Maraguinot decided to play her final year with younger sister Jaja on the court for the first time.

    Unfortunately, this much-awaited tandem was also cut short with the arrival of the pandemic.

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    Roger Gorayeb shrugs off life-threatening battle with cancer

    In late 2019, San Sebastian and PLDT head coach Roger Gorayeb was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and hospitalized for over two months. The volleyball community quickly rallied together to raise funds for his treatment.

    Earlier in June, the 59-year-old mentor revealed that he was getting his strength back as he continues with his chemotherapy sessions. That's one hopeful piece of news for one of the sport's most beloved figures.

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    Louis Gamban leaves a sassy mark in UAAP opener

    University of the Philippines rookie Louis Gamban trended on Twitter during his debut game in the UAAP, making a mark with an, ahem, interesting gesture as the Fighting Maroons barreled through Ateneo in the men's tournament.

    With every point made, Gamban was unafraid to show off his sassy attitude.

    He later on clarified in a post-game interview that he didn't mean to insult anybody.

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    Risa Sato teases "sayonara" to National University

    The Lady Bulldogs' team captain shocked the Twitterverse after posting a tweet that said "Bye NU" in September, which she took down a few minutes after.

    It is not clear, however, where her 'good bye' was directed at. Was it the canceled season? Was it a hint that the NU skipper was skipping her final year?

    Three months have passed, and there's still no confirmation or explanation about her mysterious tweet.

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    Marck Espejo makes waves in two overseas leagues

    Thailand in January, Bahrain in November. Men's national team standout Marck Espejo is making waves, gracing not one but two international leagues this year as local volleyball stuttered to a halt.

    After short but sweet stint with Visakha Volleyball Club in the Thai league (also halted because of that country's lockdown), Espejo approached Bahrain last month to help Bani Jamra in the top division Bahrain Volleyball League.

    The 23-year-old spiker will be serving as the team's import until January 30 as he seeks to make his own mark in the Gulf.

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    Bryan Bagunas and Jaja Santiago return to Japan V. League

    Philippine team athletes Jaja Santiago and Bryan Bagunas headed back to Japan last October to continue their journey with club teams Ageo Medics and Oita Miyoshi in Japan V. League Division 1.

    The Ageo Medics logged in a 6-7 win-loss slate while Bagunas' team stayed winless at 0-14 before taking a month-long break. Japan V. League will return to action in January 2021.

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    Volleyball players explore other fields

    In the unexpected off-season, a few volleyball players ventured into fields outside of the court.

    John Vic de Guzman rekindled his interest in acting and show business, signing up as a new GMA Kapuso.

    Meanwhile, National University stalwarts Ricky Marcos and Fauzi Ismail waded into their own ventures, operating small businesses over the pandemic to help out their families financialy.

    Marcos became a seafood dealer in wheels with his "Ka-Fishy" bike stall, pedaling around Imus, Cavite, while Ismail sold popular Korean barbeque meat and other items with "Dee Frozen Products."

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    Maeva Orle makes history with 50 points

    PLDT's French import Maeva Orle exploded with 50 points in a heart-stopping five-set match against Chery Tiggo in a PSL Grand Prix game early in March.

    The Crossovers eventually survived the breakout and won the game with a decider, 18-25, 21-25, 25-22, 28-26, 15-12.

    Still, Orle set the record as the second highest score made in the history of the league, following Cuban spiker Gyselle Silva's 56 points in 2018.

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    Volleyball community unites to raise funds during pandemic

    It's impossible to name them all individually as efforts done by volleyball athletes throughout the pandemic would fill up reams and reams of space. But we will try to credit as much as we can, to honor these athletes who came together for the purpose of assisting frontliners, health workers, and their fellow countrymen in both small and huge ways.

    Volleyball stars Alyssa Valdez, Charo Soriano, Dzi Gervacio, Aby Marano, and many others once again united to power the Volleyball Community Gives Back to the Philippines (VCGBPH) organization. They sent much-needed assistance all throughout the multiple crises of 2020, from the Taal eruption in January to the floods and typhoons of the past few months.

    Creamline star Jia Morado set up "Every Little Thing Counts" jersey auction fundraiser to benefit even more frontliners. Former volleyball player Gretchen Ho set up a "Donate a Bike, Save a Job" project, which has already turned over more than a thousand bicycles to its beneficiaries over the past few months.

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    Meanwhile, a lot of players donated their personal belongings like jerseys, shoes, bags, and other auctionable memorabilia to multiple fundraisers.

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