Flying high from the wings: Who are PH’s top 5 Outside Hitters of 2018?

It was a tough, mentally-exhausting task to narrow down a rather long list of talented outside hitters to just five. The country has far too many competent left wing spikers.

They come in all sizes, power and on-court intelligence, from high-leaping, block-busting hitters to towering spikers with mean arm swing. At the end of the day, though, those outside hitters who made impacts to her team or to Philippine volleyball alike will emerge on top.

FOX Sports PH presents the country’s top five outside hitters of 2018.

Special mentions: Ara Galang (F2 Logistics), Kalei Mau (Cocolife), Myla Pablo (Pocari), Milena Alessansrini (UST)

5. Isa Molde, UP

Isa Molde’s evolution from a promising rookie to a full-time go-to girl for University of the Philippines, though expected beforehand, was still a sight to behold in 2018. Despite falling short of a Final Four stint in UAAP and another dismal finish in PSL Invitationals, Molde made sure that the Lady Maroons will not end the year in tears.

Molde led the charge in UP’s Cinderella run in the PVL Collegiate Conference en route to winning their first title in the league and their first championship in recent memory. Her heroics didn’t go unnoticed as she collected the 1st Best Outside Hitter, Conference MVP and Finals MVP awards.

She later on handed the Diliman-based squad bronze medals in the UAAP Season 81 Beach Volleyball and in the Unigames 2018 in Dumaguete.

4. Bernadeth Pons, FEU/Petron

Whether on taraflex or on sand, Bernadeth Pons was a triumphant player after bagging championships in both fields.

Pons won two-peat PSL Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup title and dominated the sand court of the Ibalong Festival Beach Volleyball Open Conference with Sisi Rondina for Petron. The do-it-all spiker was a key factor when the Blaze Spikers edged F2 Logistics for the PSL All-Filipino Conference trophy, avenging their PSL Invitationals loss against the same team.

But her most noteworthy accomplishment was steering the Far Eastern University back to the Finals of UAAP, ending a nine-year Finals drought for the Lady Tamaraws. Pons’ stalwart performance all season long made this possible as she was the fourth in scoring, third in receiving and third in digging during her final year of eligibility in the league.

3. Sisi Rondina, UST/Petron

The year didn’t start in favor of Sisi Rondina. With EJ skipping UAAP Season 80 due to injury, Rondina was left alone to carry the scoring load on her small frame for the University of Sto. Tomas. She rose to be the best scorer of the tournament, as well as second in spikes and fifth in digging, but it was not enough as the Golden Tigresses settled for seventh.

But Rondina, dynamic and resilient that she is, converted this heartbreak into multiple beach volleyball championships, including her most recent three-peat in UAAP Season 81. She also soared high for Petron in its victories in PSL, usually coming off-the-bench but delivering nonetheless.

The high-leaping spiker also paired up with Dzi Gervacio for the prestigious FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Manila Open, where they reached quarterfinals.

2. Rachel Ann Daquis, Cignal

It is often assumed that when a player reached the age of 30, her level of play will meet decline. But Rachel Ann Daquis has other plans as it marked what could possibly be the regeneration of her prowess.

The 30-year old Daquis continues to improve. Her backrow attack has now become a threat whilst her remote control service was converted into jump float, thus adding firepower to her arsenal.

Playing as if in her 20s again, Daquis thrived last year as she towed Cignal to two semifinal appearances in PSL, one leading to bronze and the other ending at fourth. She amassed the 1st Best Outside Hitter awards in both conferences, solidifying her stature as one of the best left wing hitter in 2018.

1. Alyssa Valdez, Creamline

At this rate, Alyssa Valdez wrapping up the year as the best in her position is now a tradition. And why not, she has good credentials to back it up.

After two years of title drought, Valdez finally held a championship trophy last year as she and Creamline were the victors of the PVL Reinforced and Open Conferences. The bemedaled ace spiker, as usual, was brilliant in their campaigns as she ran away with two 1st Best Outside Hitter wins.

A constant fixture in the international arena, Valdez took flight with the national team in the Asian Games and AVC Cup for Women. Always been a scoring machine, Valdez was the top scorer for the Philippines in both tourneys.

Outside volleyball, she was the most tweeted Filipina athlete and the most followed volleyball player on Instagram.

Valdez is expected to have another busy year as Creamline will defend two titles while the national team is tipped to compete in two major international tournaments.

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