THE newly-assembled squad of V-League stars begins its bid in the Asian Southeastern Zone Women’s Volleyball qualifier as it takes on home team Vietnam on Friday in Quang Tri.
Led by the National University stalwarts Myla Pablo, Jennylyn Reyes, Rubie de Leon and sisters Dindin and Jaja Santiago, the Filipinas battle Vietnam at 8 p.m. before taking on Myanmar and Indonesia in the next two days, respectively, both starting at 5 p.m.
The four teams are vying for the lone spot for Southeast Asia in the main qualification tournaments.
The top teams from the different zones battle in the Asian qualification tournaments in Japan and China in September for four spots in the 2014 Women’s World Volleyball Championships in Italy.
“This team was formed at short notice and had only a week’s practice,” said head coach Roger Gorayeb. “Modest lang expectations namin.”
The POC-PSC Sports V-Belles left Manila on Wednesday for Danang via Ho Chi Minh City then took a five-hour ride to Quang Tri in the north central coast of Vietnam.
“Despite the long travel, the girls are in high spirits and very optimistic although 90 percent of them are first timers in international competition,” said team manager Tony Boy Liao.
Ranged against a Southeast Asian powerhouse right in its first outing, the Filipinas hope to draw the best from each of the players including hitters Alyssa Valdez of Ateneo, Iari Yongco of La Salle-Dasmariñas, Adamson’s Pau Soriano, UST’s Maika Ortiz and Rhea Dimaculangan, libero Jheck Dionela of Perpetual Help and former MVP Suzanne Roces.
NU’s Edjet Mabbayad and Ariel de la Cruz are the assistant coaches of the squad sponsored by Smart Communications, official outfitter Accel, the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee.
The team was formed only last week after the Philippine Volleyball Federation turned down the Asian Volleyball Confederation’s invitation to play.
The POC, through the initiative of POC first vice president Joey Romasanta and assistance of Sports Vision, the organizer of Shakey's V-League, took over the formation of the squad based on an AVC directive.