BINAN, Laguna — As soon as she overcame jitters and self-doubt, Dawn Macandili was ready to show the stuff she's made of.
The pint-sized libero from La Salle stood tall in one of the biggest wins for the national team in recent years - a 27-25, 26-24, 17-25, 25-23 defeat of regional power in the 19th AVC Asian Women's Senior Volleyball Championship on Monday night.
Philippine volleyball's 'Ms. Everywhere' lived up to that billing as she backstopped a Philippine side led by Jaja Santiago, Alyssa Valdez, Maika Ortiz and Aby Marano, saving a number of plays with her impeccable floor defense and hustle plays.
But before she could overcome Vietnam's strongest spikes, Macandili admitted she had to overcome her own questions about her ability to play at this level.
“First time ko na makasama sa national team, for the past two games nangangapa pa ako, like 'yung aura ng laro rito na puro foreigners ang kalaban,” said Macandili. “So siguro, nakuha ko na rin ang rhythm ko sa paglalaro lalo na sa mga kasama ko."
The diminutive libero stood 10 feet tall in the win over Vietnam, delivering a game-high 19 digs and 12 excellent receptions in the match that took two hours and 10 minutes to finish.
Macandili admitted it took her a while to get used to playing at this level.
“‘Yun din ang akala ko before na, 'Hala, mga top teams ‘yung kalaban namin dito,'” said Macaldili. “Tapos nung na-experience ko na na nasa loob ako ng court, sabi ko, 'Teka, volleyball lang itong pinag-uusapan natin, parang it’s anybody’s game,'”
Prior to the tournament, Okayama Seagulls coach Akiyoshi Kawamoto hailed Macandili as a ‘world-class talent’ during the Philippine team's 17-day training camp in Japan.
On Monday, Macandili proved the coach right.
“Malayo naman talaga mararating niya basta," said Philippine coach Francis Vicente. "Ang isang bata na matiyaga at gustong-gusto yung ginagawa, very passionate, malayo mararating."