OFFICIAL training starts for the Philippine Asian Under-23 women’s volleyball team on Monday while the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) and the Philippine Super Liga begin discussions on the formation of squad that will see action in the 18th Asian Seniors Women's Championship.
Leading the national team in the Asian U23 tournament set from May 1 to 9 in Manila are reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez of Ateneo and NCAA counterpart Gretchel Soltones of San Sebastian.
They will be joined by Jia Morado and Bea de Leon of Ateneo; EJ Laure and Ria Meneses of University of Santo Tomas; Jaja Santiago, Dindin Manabat and Myla Pablo of National University; Kim Fajardo of La Salle; Tin Agno of Far Eastern University; Nichole Tiamzon of University of the Philippines and Christine Rosario of Arellano University.
Aby Marano, Rhea Dimaculangan, Iris Tolenada, Maika Ortiz and Aiza Maizo will power the nucleus of the Under 23 team in the Southeast Asian Games from June 5 to 16, while the PSL All-Stars will carry the fight in the Asian Seniors on May 20 to 27.
"Playing for the country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is a dream of every athlete," Marano said. "That's why we are all excited to start the training and don the national colors in the international stage."
Training for the Under 23 squad is set at the Blue Eagle gym in Ateneo.
LVPI, led by its president Joey Romasanta, recently got the recognition of the International Volleyball Federation, the Asian Volleyball Confederation, the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission.
"The last time we won a SEA Games gold medal was in 1993 in Singapore and the last time we competed in the SEA Games was in 2005 here in Manila," said Romasanta, also the first vice-president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
"After that, the national team program had been stagnant. Hopefully, the formation of these teams will be the start of something good not only for the sport, but also for the athletes."
Philippine Superliga president Ramon 'Tats' Suzara said the league has adjusted its schedule to give the national team time to prepare for the international tournaments.
"We're behind them all the way," said Suzara. "We are ready to extend all kind of support to LVPI and the national team if that is what it will take to put the Philippines back on the international volleyball map."