Ticket selling for SEAG volleyball tourneys now available

Tickets for the men’s and women’s volleyball tournaments of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games are now on sale ahead of their opening day on December 2.

The tickets for the December 2 to 10 events at the Philippine Institute of Sports Multi-Purpose Arena or PhilSports Arena MPA at Pasig are now purchasable at the SM Tickets.

The price of seats for the 10,000-seater arena varies from 50 pesos for Gallery to 250 pesos for Upper Box.

Both men’s and women’s national teams are eyeing podium finishes in their respective divisions as this is the country’s first hosting of the biennial meet since 2005.

Marck Espejo, Bryan Bagunas, and Ranran Abdilla are tipped to form a three-headed scoring machine for the Dante Alinsunurin-mentored spikers when they kick off their campaign against Cambodia in Pool B on Dec. 2.

The men’s squad who also has Jessie Lopez, Kim Malabunga and Johnvic De Guzman will then face Vietnam on Dec. 4 and Indonesia on Dec. 6.

The women’s team led by Alyssa Valdez, Mylene Paat and Majoy Baron will open its bid against Vietnam on Dec. 3 followed by a Dec. 5 match-up with Thailand.

They will close the single-round eliminations with a colossal battle against Indonesia on Dec. 7 looking to rally behind Eya Laure, Jia Morado, and Dawn Macandili.

LOOK: Funniest tweets during the #UAAPCDC2019

Aside from men’s basketball and women’s volleyball, cheerdance competition is arguably one of the highly-anticipated competitions in the UAAP.

The competition is usually slated between the two tournaments β€” after the men’s basketball iteration (currently in its final stages) and before the women’s volleyball commences on February next year.

And much like every year, this year’s cheerdance competition for the 82nd season of the prestigious collegiate league lived up to the ballyhoo as it staged yet another show-stopping set of performances.

Students and fans alike of the eight participating universities crowded the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena to cheer, support or merely watch the one-day spectacle.

As thousands of aficionados were present in the venue, it was a field day on Twitter as well with the official hashtag #UAAPCDC2019 hitting no. 1 in the nationwide and worldwide trending topics.

With no further ado, these are some of the best β€” and funniest β€” tweets regarding the tournament.

ASSORTED

FORM 137

COURTSIDE REPORT: TRANSLATED

CLOSE UP

ENCANTADIA

ORDER OF PERFORMANCE

B1 and B2

STAGE MOTHER

WORLD RANKINGS

SHOWDOWN

NU’S PRACTICE

NO THEME

FULL SUPPORT

MIMIYUUUH AS HOST

THE PURGE

READ β€” NU Pep Squad wins 6th UAAP Cheerdance title in 7 years after besting 2019 edition

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Five Filipina volleyball players who could play as imports overseas

For the past three years, Philippines has produced import-worthy men and women volleyball players.

It started when Alyssa Valdez was tapped by Thailand club 3BB Nakornnot as reinforcement in 2016, playing alongside Thai national team ace Pimpichaya Kokram. That same year, Valdez suited up for Attack Line of Chinese Taipei together with Vietnam stalwart TrαΊ§n Thα»‹ Thanh ThΓΊy.

In 2018, three Filipinos were recruited to play in the 2018-2019 season of the highly-vaunted Japanese V.Premiere League.

Sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat reinforced Saitama Ageo Medics and Toray Arrows, respectively, as Marck Espejo joined Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler in the men’s division.

This year, another homegrown spiker in Bryan Bagunas is spreading his wings in the Land of the Rising Sun as his services were acquired by Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler as well.

The Santiago sisters, meanwhile, have also returned to Japan as Jaja is on her second tour of duty for Ageo Medics while Dindin plays for Kurobe Aqua Fairies.

With the growing recognition of the skills and talents of the Filipino spikers, it will not come as a surprise if more players will be tapped as imports by the Philippines’ neighboring countries.

After all, the country is a powerhouse team in the Southeast Asian region before it went on a hiatus following the 2005 SEA Games.

With no further ado, FOX Sports Philippines listed down some Filipino volleyball players who may have what it takes to play overseas as imports.

They were selected based on the past and present achievements as well as their current form and shape.

1. Sisi Rondina (Thailand)

Sisi Rondina is arguably the most explosive outside hitter today. Though at a disadvantage when it comes to height, Rondina makes up for it with her high leap and incredible hang time before unloading a spike that can break the blocks of even the tallest defenders β€” much like the Thais.

The spikers from Thailand are not the tallest hitters out there but their precision in attacks and all-around play make them the best ones in the region.

A multi-time champion beach volleyball player, the Petron ace’s reliable reception and floor defense further make her seemingly fit the Thai system.

2. Mylene Paat (Indonesia)

A late addition to the squad, Mylene Paat got her first taste of international action when the national team competed in the 2018 Asian Games held in Indonesia last year. At first, Paat saw scarce minutes on court, but as her true capacity was unfurled game by game, she then went on to become the team’s third-best scorer in the tournament.

Reportedly, the lefty opposite from Cignal was being recruited by an Indonesian club. This was not confirmed, though, but Paat taking flight in Indonesia is not a far-fetched idea given her skills and passion in the sports.

Paat is a mean hitter and a good blocker from the right side. She could learn a thing or two for suiting up in the Indonesian league, which is arguably one of the toughest in the region next to Thailand’s.

3. Jia Morado (Vietnam)

Trained by no less than coach Tai Bundit, Jia Morado is considered “Nootsara Tomkom” of the country with her style of playmaking β€” low, fast and precise. But while a Thailand stint is the most appropriate for Morado, playing in Vietnam may also be a good option.

The Creamline playmaker is a quick learner in determining what kind of sets her spikers want. Her composure during crunch moments is also impeccable β€” a characteristic that teams want their players to have.

A proof to this is the recent memory when Morado came in for the national team during its five-setter game against Vietnam in the 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix. Dragged into a five-setter, the team’s offensive flow improved when Morado was promoted as the main setter in the deciding frame, which they eventually won.

4. Dawn Macandili (Japan)

When the national team trained in Japan as preparation for the 2017 SEA Games, one player caught the eyes of Okayama Seagulls coach Akiyoshi Kawamoto.

During the 17-day training camp, Kawamoto was most impressed with pint-sized libero Dawn Macandili. In his own words, the Japanese mentor said Macandili will be a “world-class player” and that her play is “at par with Japan”.

That is why it is only fitting to say that the F2 Logistics libero could somehow thrive in Japan. Macandili is best known for her quick, defensive hustle and never-say-die attitude in keeping the balls alive β€” two traits that best define the Japanese, the masters of defense.

5. Kalei Mau (Europe)

Kalei Mau is not a rookie in the foreign arena. In fact, she has already suited up in two foreign clubs: Indias de Mayaguez of Puerto in 2016-2017 and Volleyball-Nantes of France in 2017-2018.

These were all before Mau took the country by storm last year. The outside spiker from F2 Logistics is not only a block-busting spiker but is also a decent floor defender, which is very atypical in Filipino players who stand at 6-foot and above.

A stint in Europe may further enhance her already hefty portfolio. It could be anywhere and Mau will still surely grow as a player as Europe has the most vaunted leagues in the world with the Turkish, Italian and Russian leagues to name a few.

(Images from Facebook/Philippine SuperLiga/Sports Vision/F2 Logistics)

LOOK: PHI women’s, men’s team SEAG schedule

The field is smaller yet the stakes are bigger for the Philippine women’s volleyball national team as only four teams are set to compete in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games next month.

From a field of six grouped into two pools in 2017, this year’s iteration of the biennial meet will only have Vietnam, Indonesia, host Philippines and defending champions Thailand vying for the gold medal.

It will be a re-installation of sorts of the 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix where the same four nations competed against each other last September and October.

The four squads will undergo a crucial single round-robin elimination, wherein the top two teams will advance to the championship match while the lower half will be relegated for the battle for bronze.

The Philippines will start its quest on ending a 14-year medal drought against the Vietnamese on December 3 before facing 11-peat champs Thais on December 5. Both games are slated at 6 p.m.

The Nationals then takes on Indonesia on December 7, 6 p.m., in what could be the determinant of their fate in the tournament to be held at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

A couple of losses may automatically weaken the national team’s chances of moving to the next phase, further eliminating them from title contention.

In other news, the men’s team is also up for a grueling campaign as after being bracketed with last Games’ runners-up Indonesia and Vietnam along with Cambodia in Pool B in the men’s tournament.

The Pinoy spikers led by the troika of Marck Espejo, Bryan Bagunas and Ranran Abdilla open their bid against Cambodia on December 2, followed by December 4 game against bronze medalist Vietnam.

They will then tussle with silver medalist Indonesia on December 6. All their games are set at 6 p.m.

The first and second-ranked teams per group will qualify for the semifinals.

NU standouts Bagunas, Santiago among top spikers in Japan

National University standouts Bryan Bagunas and Jaja Santiago were among the top spikers in their respective divisions in the 2019-2020 Japanese V.Premiere League so far.

Almost four weeks since the highly-vaunted league opened its curtains, Bagunas of Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler and Saitama Ageo Medics’ Santiago have both cracked in the top 10 best hitters of the men’s and women’s tournament, respectively.

Following the footsteps of previous Asian and Filipino import Marck Espejo, Bagunas is largely contributing to the Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler as he is currently the sixth-best spiker.

Bagunas has connected 58-out-of-110 attacks for a whopping 52.7 percent conversion rate in five games to place himself just behind world giants Australian opposite Edgar Thomas middle blocker Dmitriy Muserskiy of Russia.

Slowly picking up where she left off last season, Santiago is the eighth top spiker at the moment in the women’s division.

Slightly ahead of Brazil’s legendary middle blocker Fabiana Claudino (11) and Turkish veteran Neriman Oszoy (12), Santiago is averaging 44.4 percent in success rate in spikes after scoring 63 kills off 142 attempts.

Their efforts, though, are yet to generate better team results as Oita Miyoshi Weisse Adler and Ageo Medics are both presently sitting at the bottom half of the standings.

Bagunas’ squad has only won one game in five outings thus far to rank eighth in the 10-team field.

Santiago and team, meanwhile, are fourth in the 6-team Group B with their win-loss 3-4 card.

(Image from Facebook/Sports Vision/Philippine SuperLiga)

Maddie Madayag in the PSL

Maddie Madayag is one of the hottest recruits after her tenure at Ateneo de Manila University ended in May.

Madayag steered the Lady Eagles to their third UAAP championship on her final playing year, when she also snagged the second Best Middle Blocker plum highlighted by a record-setting 11 blocks in single-game performance.

Tall, powerful and mean at the net, the 21-year old middle blocker is a surefire gem to whichever team she suits up for. Reportedly two teams from Philippine SuperLiga (PSL) showed interests in acquiring her services.

READ: All eyes on Madayag, Tolentino as they have yet to decide where to play next

Sta. Lucia and the now-disbanded United Volleyball Club reportedly offered the two-time UAAP gold medalist a spot in their respective teams.

Madayag was later on announced as the skipper of the newly-formed Choco Mucho in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).

Madayag and the Flying Titans debuted in the 2019 PVL Open Conference, where they will eventually settle for seventh place out of nine teams.

Another opportunity for Madayag to play in the PSL taraflex came when the national team was announced to be competing in the PSL Super Cup as part of its preparations for the forthcoming 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

But days prior to the opening salvo of the three-day tourney, Madayag was reportedly skipping the stint along with Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado.

Surprising the fans, Madayag was seen in tricolors jersey during the opening day β€” and she remained in the PSL until the end of the week-long tournament.

It was a welcome development not only for PSL fans but also for the national team who has often experienced incomplete lineup during trainings and competitions abroad.

In her short stint in the league β€” only played four full sets out of five β€” she managed 11 points built mostly on attacks, averaging 2.2 points per set.

Her connection with Rhea Dimaculangan, the lone setter during the tourney, was pretty impressive considering the short period of time they have spent together on court.

But while her numbers may not be as high as expected, it was Madayag’s commitment to the national team amid playing in a rival league that is really commendable.

Madayag crossing the bridge between the two leagues for the sake of the country further solidify that she, indeed, is worthy of her place in the national team.

Madayag does not need the national team; the national team needs players like her.

(Image from Facebook/Philippine SuperLiga)

Instant blockbuster: Imagining an F2 Logistics-Creamline crossover match

When two neutron stars collide, they will either form a larger neutron star or collapse into black hole. In sports, particularly in volleyball, a collision between two top-caliber players/teams create a whole, new universe of endless possibilities.

The 2019 season was a banner year for F2 Logistics in the Philippine SuperLiga (PSL) and Creamline in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).

Arguably the top squad of their respective leagues, the Cargo Movers and the Cool Smashers have had historic campaigns this year.

F2 Logistics’ move was nothing but slick as it won two out of three indoor conferences in PSL.

After a rough start of the season highlighted by injuries and undermanned lineup in the Grand Prix, the Cargo Movers marched to the All Filipino Conference with a rejuvenated lineup with the arrival of Kalei Mau. Mau, the eventual Most Valuable Player, steered the Ramil de Jesus-mentored squad to its second all-local title.

The ladies in yellow chalked a successful title defense bid in the Invitational Cup, further adding a fifth championship to their drawers.

It was a year of firsts for F2 Logistics. In franchise history, this was the first time the team successfully defended a title and the first time it won two titles in a row in a single season.

Not to be outdone, Creamline also has had a fruitful bid after winning the season-ending conference of their league to rack up their titles to three overall.

The Cool Smashers tapped Kuttika Kaewpin and Aleoscar Blanco in the Reinforced Conference, where they fell short of stopping PetroGazz’ Wilma Salas and Janisa Johnson to settle for silver while being dethroned.

Bouncing back from this loss, coach Tai Bundit and his wards then completed a rare 20-0 tournament sweep in the Open Conference β€” both a first in franchise and league history.

Now, what happens when F2 Logistics and Creamline β€” two big, star teams in the country β€” clash, say, in an alternate universe?

The Cargo Movers’ defensive efforts will be led by 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix second leg Best Libero Dawn Macandili while Kyle Atienza keep the ball alive for the Cool Smashers. It will not be the first time these two defensive gems will go up against another as they have previously clashed during the the UAAP Season 80 finals.

While these two talented libero protect the floor, Majoy Baron and Aby MaraΓ±o takes on Risa Sato and Celine Domingo in a middle blocker clash at the net β€” a block competition between Baron and Domingo and a speed contest between MaraΓ±o and Sato. Notably, tje F2 Logistics’ duo are part of the senior national team as Creamline’s tandem has been part of the youth squad.

For the opposite, it will be an all La Salle battle as Kim Dy from the Cargo Movers and Michele Gumabao of the Cool Smashers take charge from the right wings. Dy and Gumabao were both standouts during their tenure with the Lady Spikers, with the former leading the team to a three-peat from Seasons 78 to 80 while Gumabao also did the same from Seasons 73 to 75.

As if these match-ups aren’t interesting enough, the war between the setters and the open spikers will be on a different, much exciting level.

Kim Fajardo and Jia Morado, arguably the country’s best setters today, will pick each other’s mind anew as Fajardo orchestrate F2 Logistics’ attacks while Morado weaves magic for Creamline. It will be reminiscent to their 4-year rivalry in the UAAP playing for La Salle and Ateneo, respectively.

All-around players Ara Galang and Jema Galanza will also spark the competition may it be on offense and defense. While they are both consistent source of points, it’s their do-it-all style that really beef up their respective squads.

But the cherry on top will the back-and-forth affair between Kalei Mau and Alyssa Valdez. two prolific scorers with varying styles.

Mau is a powerful hitter who can hit and score above the blockers with her towering form. Valdez, meanwhile, can light up the scoreboards at a moment’s notice with her fast and smart spike game.

Interestingly, they were both part of the national team this year with Mau towing the squad to a bronze medal finish in the first leg of ASEAN Grand Prix while Valdez duplicated the feat in the second leg.

A throwback to their chess matches in the collegiate level, de Jesus will try to pull the tricks against Bundit and vice versa in another promising battle between the coaches.

Imagine all the possibilities when these two champion teams take on each other β€” even just in a friendly game.

There is history between their players and coaches. There will be a sold-out arena as well given how huge their fan bases are. Most certainly, there is the championship-caliber skills.

It will be an instant blockbuster, definitely one for the books.

Unfortunately, the F2 Logistics-Creamline match-up is the great rivalry that never was.

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With PSL, PVL seasons over, full focus now shifts to nat’l team, SEAG

The Premier Volleyball League (PVL) closed its curtains for this year yesterday when Creamline was crowned back-to-back Open Conference champions.

The Cool Smashers inked their names in the league’s history as they swept the tournament, 20-0, en route to their third PVL title.

Conference MVP Jema Galanza, Finals MVP Jia Morado and ace hitter Alyssa Valdez all came through to give the three-time PVL champions the sweet victory after four long months of grueling competition.

Prior to this, the Philippine SuperLiga (PSL) has also wrapped up its season last Friday after the successful staging of Super Cup.

For fans of the two leagues, it will be quite a long wait before they see their favorite teams in action again.

Considering their calendar of activities this year, PSL might plunge back into action on February next year for the Grand Prix while PVL could kick off on May β€” quite a long time to kill for the aficionados.

But the volleyball community could somehow look into the brighter aspect of this situation. With the PSL and the PVL already closed for the season, full focus can now be shifted to the Philippine women’s volleyball national team.

The National team is set for war in the forthcoming 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games next month with the aim of ending a 14-year long medal drought.

The tricolor squad participated in the 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix and held a 12-day training camp in Japan from September to October as part of its preparations.

Shaq delos Santos and his wards are expected to move into full gear on Monday, playing against men’s teams, as part of its preparations for the December 2-10 tournament at the PhilSports Arena.

It is a welcome development for the team who has been dealing with lost of players and incomplete training sessions for the past months.

With the two league both in full swing since February, there was limited time and opportunities for the squad to have complete training sessions due to schedule conflicts and club commitments.

In fact, Valdez and Morado have had to cut their Japan training short to join Creamline in the final stages of PVL.

The team still has issues to address, specifically its lapses in defense and transition plays as evident in its three-setter loss to collegiate team University of Tsukuba in the PSL Super Cup. This, aside from finishing its series of tuneup matches in Japan sand2a win.

And with Kalei Mau out of the lineup due to ineligibility, the team needs to fill the void and find someone aside from Valdez, Mylene Paat and Majoy Baron to light up the scoreboard as it faces Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia for the medal.

Meanwhile, the men’s team led by Marck Espejo, Ranran Abdilla and Jessie Lopez is currently training in Japan and is also doing tuneup matches as preparations.

The men’s team is slated with Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia in Pool B. Only the top two teams per pool move to the semifinals.

The women’s division will only feature four teams in a single round robin format where the top two seeded teams will qualify for the gold medal match.

The Espejo-led spikers collide with Cambodia on December 2 while the Pinay hitters take on Vietnam on December 3 to open their campaigns.

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Fans react on Mau’s exclusion from nat’l team lineup for SEAG

Less than a month before the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, the Philippine women’s volleyball national team was hit right in the face when Kalei Mau was dropped in the lineup due to eligibility issues.

Mau was confirmed out of the roster that will see action in the biennial meet after not meeting the requirements set by the FIVB: a 2-year residency in the country she’ll play for and a clearance for transfer from the United States Volleyball Association.

This came in as a shock to everyone β€” including Mau herself β€” as she was deemed to spark the Nationals’ quest to end a 14-year medal drought.

Mau has been training with the squad since. She suited up for the country in the first leg of the 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix in Thailand last September and was present during the team’s 12-day training in Japan late October to early November.

In a tweet Friday night, Mau reaffirmed her commitment to don the tricolors amid the issues that hinder her from joining the team that has already lost the Santiago sisters and Alohi Robins-Hardy in the past few months.

Mau wrote: It’s my passion for the game that has brought to where I am today and nothing/no one can take that away from me. No matter what jersey I have on, I’ll always play for this country.

Following these, fans took to Twitter to air their opinions on the latest issue.

Most fans hit out on Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI), the governing body for the sports in the country.

User @jaystansports pointed out the timing of the announcement, which is just more than three weeks away from the tournament. He mentioned how these announcements seemed “always phrased” in favor of LVPI.

User @volleydator1 recalled why LVPI decided for the national team to not participate in any AVC tournaments this year: to keep Mau and Robins-Hardy from being scouted. Now both players were out of the team due to eligibility issues. This news, for the fan, is disappointing but not surprising.

For user @jamesvitaliano, the blame should be put on LVPI’s incompetence and not to Mau as, according to him, the outside hitter was really raring to play for the national team only to be booted out.

Meanwhile, user @MissEverywhere_ said coach Ramil de Jesus made the right decision of stepping down from his post as head coach of the national team when he was appointed last year. This, per the fan, was a wise move considering the issues surrounding the LVPI.

Despise the news, user @MeterVolley hoped that this will not discourage Mau and Robins-Hardy from playing for the national team in the future.

Pablo erupts for 26 as Motolite equalizes with BanKo-Perlas

Ace hitter Myla Pablo erupted for 26 big markers as Motolite dismantled BanKo-Perlas in four sets, 26-28, 25-14, 25-19, 25-17, Saturday to equalize in the battle for bronze in the 2019 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Bouncing back from a Game 1 sweep, Pablo unloaded 24 kills and a pair of blocks to give Motolite at least another shot at clinching a podium finish.

The Motolite skipper took charge from the get-go as she delivered points from all angles including the three consecutive set-ending kills.

For Pablo, they could’ve won the match via three sets but they fell short in the tight opening frame. Nevertheless, they recovered and took home the win to at least secure a Game 3 depending on the results of the championship game later.

“Actually, noong first set talaga alam naming nandoon na kami pero bumitaw kami sa dulo. And then sabi nga namin na hindi pa tapos ‘yung laban, kunin namin ‘tong Game 2, and ‘yun nga nagtulung-tulong kami as a team,” said Pablo.

Tied at 25, Banko-Perlas rallied behind Sue Roces and Ana Gopico to bag the first set amid a scorching Pablo.

With Pablo in front of the helm, Motolite then took control from the second set onwards behind the scoring efforts of Tots Carlos and Isa Molde, who both led the squad’s fourth set late surge after being knotted with BanKo-Perlas at 16.

Despite the win, Motolite is not out of the woods yet as BanKo-Perlas had the advantage in terms of set wins as the latter finished the series opener in only three sets.

Motolite’s fate lies at the hands of PetroGazz, who also needs to win Game 2 of the Finals to force a decider on Wednesday.

(Image from Facebook/Sports Vision)

For now, dream Valdez-Mau combi will have to wait

Hopes were high when Kalei Mau set foot in the Philippines last year.

A standout from the US NCAA suiting up for the University of Arizona with playing experiences for clubs in Puerto Rico and France, the 24-year old outside hitter immediately made waves during her first two Philippine SuperLiga (PSL) stints with the now-disbanded United Volleyball Club.

Standing at 6-foot-2 with a mean arm swing, Mau has the height, the power, and the defense β€” she was everything the country’s women’s volleyball national team has been waiting for to beef up its quest for international success.

And when the Filipina-Hawaiian secured a Philippine passport in March that made her a dual citizen, the volleyball community rejoiced as another firepower was added to its arsenal that was composed of Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago, and Mylene Paat.

Mau was deemed worthy diagonal for Valdez, arguably the country’s top gun especially with Santiago not seeing national team action due to schedule conflicts between the Japanese V.Premiere League and the Games.

While Valdez has the speed, Mau has the power. While Mau has the height, Valdez has the experience with the national team. While Valdez has the familiarity playing against the Thais, Vietnamese and Indonesians, Mau brings the surprise factor.

It was like a match made in heaven.

As if Santiago’s absence was not big of a deal enough, the Philippines received another blow when Mau was deemed ineligible to play for the highly-anticipated tournament.

This, as she failed to secure clearance from the University States Volleyball Association in compliance with the FIVB rules allowing her to change Federation and don the tricolors.

Now, head coach Shaq delos Santos has to find the perfect player to fill the large void left by Mau.

Ideally, Sisi Rondina and Myla Pablo could be the right players to take the position as both are explosive hitters with decent passes.

Pablo has suited up with Valdez back in 2015 for the Asian U23 Championship, while Rondina’s incredible skill set on top of infectious attitude on the court may largely benefit the team.

But the problem is, neither was included in the 15-woman lineup. In fact, Pablo wasn’t even in the first released roster this year while Rondina has already set her sights on beach volleyball.

Aside from Valdez, there were only two remaining and natural open spiker in the squad: Ces Molina and Eya Laure.

Molina and Laure may not have Mau’s sheer power, but they are very skilled in their own rights, thus making either of the two equally worthy.

Molina saw the most action in the open spiker position during the first and second legs of 2019 ASEAN Grand Prix, so she could be the possible starting spiker together with Mau.

Laure may not be usually a starter but she almost always deliver whenever her name was called. She has more firepower against Molina, but the latter has better pass β€” an area that the national team has been trying to perfect in years.

But that won’t be answered at least until SEA Games, where they’ll go up against powerful wing spikers Thailand’s Onuma Sittirak, Indonesia’s April Manganang and Tran Thi Thanh Thuy of Vietnam.

For now, the dream Valdez-Mau combination would have to wait.

Hopefully, next year, no conflicts will further hinder the two spikers from conspiring alongside Santiago and the rest of the dedicated national team.

Hopefully, it will be realized and not remain as is β€” a dream.

Mau reaffirms commitment, says she’ll ‘always play’ for PHI

In what could be a reference to her being out of the national team for the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Kalei Mau in a tweet Friday night reaffirmed her desire to play for the Philippines regardless of the circumstances.

In a lone tweet a few hours after reports confirmed her ineligibility to suit up for the tricolors in the biennial meet this month, the 24-year old seemed to renew her commitment to the squad despite the most recent roadblock.

“It’s my passion for the game that has brought to where I am today and nothing/no one can take that away from me. No matter what jersey I have on, I’ll always play for this country,” she wrote.

Prior to this tweet, the Fil-Hawaiin outside hitter reposted a tweet from a fan that said she deserves to be in the national team.

READ: Kalei Mau booted out of PH team in SEA Games due to ineligibility issues

Mau, the prolific scorer from the US NCAA playing for the University of Arizona, failed to secure clearance from the United States Volleyball Association to play for the Philippines.

The 6-foot-2 spiker also did not meet the 2-year residency required by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) for an athlete requesting to change Federation.

With these, Mau was ruled out of the national team that already lost the services of Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat (schedule conflict between Japanese V.Premiere League and SEA Games) and Alohi Robins-Hardy (passport issues) in its quest to end a 14-year medal drought in the said tournament.

She will be replaced by Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, who was previously listed as a reserve, in the lineup that still has Alyssa Valdez, Majoy Baron, Mylene Paat, Jia Morado and Dawn Macandili.

(Image from Facebook/SMM Volleyball)

Cool Smashers aim to finish, Angels hope to extend in Game 2

Creamline and PetroGazz have different things in mind when they march to Game 2 of the best-of-three Finals of the 2019 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference.

The Cool Smashers are looking to seal the deal and run away with the championship while the Angels hope to forge an extension when they collide 6 p.m. main event at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Before the main action, Banko-Perlas and Motolite clash first at the 4 p.m. curtain-raiser for the bronze medal.

Touting with the series lead and an unbeaten 19-game winning streak, the defending champs Creamline nears a back-to-back Open Conference title after its straight-set, 25-14, 25-22, 27-25, victory in Game 1.

It was a commanding win for the Cool Smashers, who overpowered PetroGazz in attacks, 51 to 32, behind the double-digit scoring efforts from Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza, and Michele Gumabao.

Valdez led all scorers with 19 markers off 17 kills and a couple of aces while Galanza uncorked 15 hits and 10 digs for a double-double performance. Gumabao chimed in 10 points for the ladies in pink.

β€œOne thing we want as a team is ayaw naming maulit β€˜yung hirap na pinagdaanan namin nung Reinforced Conference, so we have to stay focused and composed towards our other games,” said Valdez, referring to their Finals lost against the same squad almost four months ago.

A win will hand the Tai Bundit-mentored spikers their third overall PVL title β€” the most in the history of the 3-year old league.

On the other hand, it will not be the first time that the Angels will head into the championship series at a disadvantage following their Reinforced Conference feat.

The reigning champions of the import-flavored tourney also dropped the series opener against Creamline before bagging the next two games to complete their title run.

Head coach Arnold Laniog and his wards will once again lean on Jovie Prado, Jonah Sabete, and Jeanette Panaga in order to force a decider on November 13.

Sabete, Prado and Panaga came up with combined 12, 11 and seven points, respectively, all for naught the last timeout.

(Image from Facebook/Sports Vision)

Mau, Paat, Baron to lead Nationals in PSL Super Cup

With PVL stars Alyssa Valdez, Jia Morado and Maddie Madayag not suiting up, Kalei Mau, Mylene Paat and Majoy Baron are tipped to lead the charge for the Philippine women’s volleyball national team when they participate in the 2019 Philippine SuperLiga (PSL) Super Cup.

The three PSL standouts are billed to pace the 11-woman lineup in the mini-tournament organized by the league to help the national team in its preparation for the forthcoming 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to be held here later this month.

Coming off a grueling 12-day training camp in Japan, the Nationals get to test their mettle on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan when they take on PSL Shine, a team bannered by former national team campaigners Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Denden Lazaro and MJ Phillips.

The Shaq delos Santos-mentored spikers will then clash with Alohi Robins-Hardy, Roselyn Doria and Gretchel Soltones of PSL Sparkle on November 7 before wrapping up the single round robin tourney with visiting team Tsukuba University on November 8.

Tsukuba University, reigning champions of the All-Japan Intercollegiate Volleyball Championship, is tipped to give the national team a taste of competitive action as it seek to end a 14-year medal drought in the biennial meet.

Composing the national team lineup aside from Mau, Paat and Baron are Aby MaraΓ±o and Dawn Macandili of F2 Logistics, Petron’s Ces Molina, Rhea Dimaculangan, and Mika Reyes and Gonzaga of Cignal along with Foton’s Eya Laure and Generika Ayala’s Kath Arado.

Set to help Maizo-Pontillas, Lazaro and Phillips for Team Shine are Remy Palma, Buding Duremdes, Fiola Ceballos, Ria Meneses, Patty Orendain, Mean Mendrez, Bia General, Amanda Villanueva, Eli Soyud, Rebecca Rivera, Des Clemente, Alex Cabanos and Fritz Gallenero under the mentorship of coach Karl Dimaculangan.

For Team Sparkle, Ranya Musa, Ej Laure, May Luna, Jen Reyes, Mina Aganon, Elaine Kasilag, Jerili Malabanan, Jasmine Nabor, Alyssa Eroa, Judith Abil, Caitlyn Viray, Dimdim Pacres and Nica Guliman comprised the lineup with Vilet Ponce-de Leon as coach.

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