ATENEO setter Jia Morado on Tuesday became the most glaring omission when the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. announced the members of the Philippine women's volleyball pool.
The 21-year-old playmaker was curiously left out of the 25-woman pool named by national coach Francis Vicente led by Alyssa Valdez, Mika Reyes, Jaja Santiago and Rachel Anne Daquis.
Fans were quick to notice the non-inclusion, especially since Morado emerged as the top setter at the end of the first round of the UAAP Season 79 women's volleyball tournament.
Asked to explain Morado's non-inclusion during the PSA Forum, Vicente said the Lady Eagles star was actually invited to a special tryout on Sunday but did not show up.
“She was invited,” said Vicente.
After the nationwide tryouts that held stops in Manila, Cebu and Davao, the LVPI on Sunday held a special tryout for players currently seeing aciton in the UAAP.
Vicente said assistant coach Bryan Esquibel handed the letters to Morado, Kat Tolentino, and Maddie Madayag of Ateneo, Kim Dy and Dawn Macandili of La Salle, Remy Palma and Toni Rose Basas of Far Eastern University, Isa Molde of University of the Philippines and Jasmine Nabor of National University.
“Binigyan sila ng sulat,” shared Vicente. “Ang nag-distribute, mismong assistant coach, personal niya inabot.
"Pero hindi sila nag respond.”
However, Madayag, Tolentino, Macandili, and Dy - who like Morado didn't attend the special tryouts - were eventually added by Vicente to the national pool.
Asked to explain Morado's omission, the veteran mentor explained that the team is already loaded in the setter position with Kim Fajardo, Rhea Dimaculangan and Roselle Baliton.
On the other hand, Vicente said the 6-foot-3 outside hitter Tolentino, 5’11 middle blocker Madayag, and 5’11 opposite spiker Dy, are being eyed for the U-23 team.
Tolentino, 22, Madayag, 19, and Dy, 21, are eligible to play in the U-23, while Morado, who already played in the 2015 edition held in Manila, can no longer participate because of an AVC rule saying that a player can only play once in the age group.
Vicente later defended his choice of the three setters in the pool, namely Kim Fajardo, Rhea Dimaculangan and Roselle Baliton.
Fajardo suited up for the Philippine team in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship in October last year while Dimaculangan saw action in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in September.
Vicente said he sees a lot of potential in the 6-1 Baliton.
“Sa World Club pa lang nakita na natin ang laro niya sa pagiging setter niya, hinangaan na siya ng ibang countries,” said the veteran mentor of Fajardo.
“Si Rhea, matagal na sa national team, she’s with experience at the same time ‘yung system of training alam na rin niya,” he added.
“Tapos si Baliton, 6’1. Because of her height, may advantage na agad ang Pilipinas so nakikita naman during the UAAP na paangat nang paangat ang setter so nandon siya sa stage ng developmental pa pero potential siya,” he continued.