The odds will be stacked against them, but Foton import Ariel Usher vows to battle it out when the home team begins its 2016 Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship campaign Saturday afternoon in Laguna.
Usher, who made her name in the local scene as Cignal’s reinforcement last year, said they will be short in preparation, but not in fighting heart as they slug it out against the best of the continent in the week-long meet.
“Yes. We will be ready,” she told FOX Sports. “Although we are a newly-put-together team, we should perform well together. We will fight for each and every point. We will come together and have fun as a team representing the Philippines.”
With less than a month to prepare since she returned to the country, Usher shared she already felt the warm welcome from her new teammates, making it easier for her to transition into her role as one of the squad’s most potent attackers.
“It was so nice, they are so welcoming. I felt a part of the team the day I arrived! So playing together was easy because everyone is easy to get along with on and off the court. Everyone is very willing to adjust and play together. So it works well,” she exclaimed.
Usher and the core of Foton Pilipinas participated in the 2016 Sealect Tuna Tournament in Thailand, where they finished sixth and gave a scare to formidable teams like powerhouse Bangkok Glass.
Through the competition, Usher said they were able to build a bond while also learning the ropes from newly-installed head coach Fabio Menta.
“The trip to Thailand was awesome, it was more focused on learning and getting used to playing together. I think it was a good learning experience to see some high international play before the championship! I think we accomplished those things we went there for,” she said.
“Just from the few days in Thailand, we were able to know each other on and off the court even better and I believe it will continue to get better every day,” she added.
Banking on Tornadoes like Jaja Santiago, Maika Ortiz, Rhea Dimaculangan and Cherry Rondina, plus reinforcements Aby Maraño, Jov Gonzaga and Jen Reyes, Usher hopes that she could be able to do a little more to solidify the team’s presence in the AVC.
“I want to add a consistent level of play to the team. They are already so positive and willing to learn, so the base of the team is amazing! I just hope to add to their great team already!” she said. “I believe we have great chances in the tournament. We fight, always. I don’t think any team is out of reach.” — By Joyce Palad