In less than a month, Philippine volleyball has claimed two medals in two separate tourneys.
On July 9, Marck Espejo, Bryan Bagunas and the men’s national volleyball team took home the bronze medal in the 2019 Thailand Open Sealect Tuna Championships.
The Nationals erased a two-set deficit and displayed grit and grind in the deciding frame to eke out a cardiac 22-25, 27-29, 25-18, 25-18, 26-24 win against Thai-Denmark Saraburiat the V Sommai Gymnasium in Sisaket, Thailand.
Espejo, who was awarded as second Best Outside Hitter, and Bagunas conspired for 59 big points for the men’s team, which is also composed by Ranran Abdilla, Jessie Lopez, Peter Torres, and Kim Malabunga and mentored by head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
It was the second podium finish for the Philippines in a Thailand-hosted competition after the bronze medal feat in 2017 by the Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Star team led by Aby Maraño, Rhea Dimaculangan, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Mika Reyes.
Two weeks later, the Philippines received another recognition following its bridesmaid finish of 2019 ASEAN School Games girls’ volleyball competition in Indonesia.
The Pinay spikers, bannered by high school superstars Angel Canino, Alyssa Solomon, Mhicaela Belen and Alleiah Malaluan under the tutelage of head coach Regine Diego, put on a valiant stand against heavyweight Thailand during their gold medal battle.
The young hitters pushed the Thais in five sets and settled for silver after a 20-25, 29-31, 25-19, 25-18, 9-15 result.
Following these achievements, volleyball aficionados called for better national team management from the Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI).
The national team has started participating in international competitions again in 2015. From there, the Nationals have already joined huge foreign turf such as the 2017 Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship, 2017 Southeast Asian Games and 2018 Asian Games.
But this year, much to the disappointment of fans, it has been decided that the national team will not be joining any international competition to avoid being scouted in preparation for the SEA Games 2019 which will be held here.
Some fans asked for a more solid program, especially with the forthcoming regional tournament just four months away from opening day, so as to not put the skills of the Filipino spikers into waste.
Meanwhile, user @AshleyNep cited the gap between the skills of the young spikers and the current national team. She tweeted: “You know what deserves our anger? The fact that we see these group of girls fight closely against the Thais tapos after 8 years, makikita mong malaki na yung gap sa skills kasi walang matinong program for our national teams.”
Further, some believe that, while the program of the governing body is deemed questionable, the future of Philippine volleyball is still bright.