Old but Gold: Pinay spikers crushing it in their 30s

Age is not a barrier. As the old adage says, it’s just a number.

This is why it does not come as surprise when some veteran players here in the Philippines are still playing competitive volleyball — even in their 30s.

Take, for example, the legendary Tina Salak.

The accomplished playmaker, a three-time Southeast Asian (SEA) Games medalist, played competitive volleyball until last year when she announced her retirement at the age of 41.

While physical fitness is a huge factor, passion to the sports is sometimes enough to fuel these ladies.

FOX Sports Philippines named some of these time-tested Pinay hitters, who may be past their peaks but still continue to give their younger counterparts a run for their money.

RACHEL ANNE DAQUIS

Rachel Anne Daquis, 31, is arguably one of the most reliable outside hitter in the country today. The Far Eastern University standout remains as a consistent contributor from the left side for Cignal in the Philippine SuperLiga (PSL).

Playing as if she is in her 20s again, Daquis averaged 11.70 points per game across the 2019 season. This, on top of her indisputable leadership, was crucial for the HD Spikers’ rather successful campaign.

The former national team campaigner was instrumental in Cignal’s back-to-back podium finishes this year: a silver medal finish in the All Filipino Conference (where she won 1st Best Outside Spiker) and a third place result in the Invitationals Cup.

TATAN PANTONE

There was nothing flashy in the way Lizlee Ann Gata-Pantone move inside the taraflex, nor was she as vocal as other players. But make no mistake as the 31-year old libero can still frustrate her opponents with her ever reliable defense at the floor.

The defensive gem out of Adamson University is currently playing for the PLDT Home Fibr in PSL, the home of national team liberos Dawn Macandili, Kath Arado, and Denden Lazaro.

Pantone recorded an average 12.55 digs per game and 51.61 percent efficiency in reception this year. Her best performance as of late was her 31-dig output against Generika Ayala in the all-local tourney.

MARY JEAN BALSE-PABAYO

For a 36-year old middle blocker, Balse-Pabayo has done a decent job for the PacificTown Army in the ongoing 2019 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference.

As of October 20, the University of Sto. Tomas legend is currently ranked as seventh best blocker of the conference, racking up 26 kill blocks for an average 0.46 block per set for the Lady Troopers. Across 15 games, the middle blocker has amassed 97 markers, of which 64 came from spikes while seven were aces.

But while her numbers may not be as profilic back as when she was still in tip-top shape, Balse-Pabayo’s experience playing in various local and international tournaments is what still make her a noteworthy opponent at the net.

WENDY ANNE SEMANA

The Philippine Air Force’s offense is being orchestrated by experienced setter Wendy Anne Semana, who seemed to have never lost an ounce of her wits in playmaking.

Semana, 33, is averaging 4.81 excellent sets for the Lady Jet Spikers in the 2019 PVL Open Conference, ahead of younger co-setters like Jem Ferrer, Jia Morado and Iris Tolenada.

Arguably, the FEU-honed setter had a hand in Dell Palomata’s league-best 39.62 percent conversion rate in spikes.

AIZA MAIZO-PONTILLAS

Having withstood the test of time, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas is an enduring classic — a 31-year old opposite seemed to be aging rather gracefully, notably in recent memory during the PSL Invitationals Cup winner-takes-all Finals between Petron and F2 Logistics.

The eventual Best Opposite had her best game in years scoring 23 points for the Blaze Spikers. It was a performance reminiscent to when she was still donning the UST colors and competing against a Ramil de Jesus-mentored squad.

Maizo-Pontillas remains as a vital cog for Petron, helping the powerhouse team achieved two-peat Grand Prix championships this year. The lefty spiker is presently listed as reserve for the national team that will see action in the forthcoming 2019 SEA Games.

(Images from Facebook/Philippine SuperLiga)

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