Imagining version 2.0 of the women’s national volleyball team (Part 2)

As continuation of the Imagining a National Team version 2.0 series, FOX Sports Philippines enumerated the players – who aren’t part of the current 20-woman pool – who have what it takes to represent the country in the international tourneys.

Presently, the training pool has Creamline’s Jia Morado, FEU’s Gel Cayuna and Alohi Robins-Hardy of United Volleyball Club as setters. It also has a rich array of opposite hitters in Petron’s Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Cignal’s Mylene Paat, and Tots Carlos of UP.

In this installation, FOX Sports Philippines listed potential setters and opposite spikers for the national team in the future.

READ — Imagining version 2.0 of the women’s national volleyball team

SETTERS

Kim Fajardo – For the past three years, Fajardo was the main orchestrator of the national team’s offense. A three-year national team campaigner, the F2 Logistics setter is the most experienced playmaker in the international arena today, having played in at least four major volleyball tournaments including the FIVB Women’s Volleyball Club Championship in 2016.

This year, though, it looks like the three-time UAAP Best Setter from La Salle will be taking a break as she was not included in the pool due to injury – which she sustained during the Cargo Movers’ prelims match against UVC. But while she may not be seeing action this year, the rest will give her ample time to assess from the sidelines and create new tricks to play when she comes back.

Jasmine Nabor – Having Nabor as setter is a luxury. Not only was she a tall setter in Philippines’ standard, the former NU playmaker is also offensive-minded, much like Fajardo and veterans Rubie de Leon and Tina Salak.

A converted setter, the lefty player showed willingness and discipline to rise to the occasion – she can easily switch between setting up plays for her spikers or doing the damage herself with her 1-2 plays.

Deanna Wong – Filling the void left by a setter like Morado and running the offense of a high-caliber team like Ateneo were two daunting tasks that Wong was able to accomplish with good remarks. The UAAP Season 80 Best Setter is a perfect fit for the national team, especially if it plans to build a long-term volleyball program as she is only 20 years old.

Wong is currently the third best setter in the ongoing UAAP Season 81, averaging 6.38 excellent sets per frame. She also had a major hand in the Lady Eagles’ 10-game winning streak, helping her squad enter the Final Four for the 10th straight year.

Joyme Cagande – Even before her arrival in the UAAP senior’s division, Cagande’s name has been making rounds in social media fora. A junior ranks standout with a hefty portfolio to back it up, the rookie setter from NU could be the country’s next top playmaker in the years to come.

The three-time UAAP Girl’s Division Best Setter was molded by Nazareth School of NU, which has arguably the most successful high school program for the past few years. Though her grand debut in the women’s division was spoiled by a knee injury, she is still young and still has a lot of opportunities to prove herself as a national team prospect.

OPPOSITE

Kat Tolentino – Ateneo no longer has Jho Maraguinot nor Mich Morente in its fold, but it has Tolentino. And surprisingly, she’s enough. The Fil-Am opposite hitter is presently one of the heaviest MVP contenders in the ongoing UAAP as she ranked fourth in scoring and spiking and third in blocking.

But more than her height and power, it was her resiliency that the national team needs the most. The towering spiker has suffered and recovered from ACL injury not just once, but thrice – a strong evidence of how much of a fighter she is.

Jovelyn Gonzaga – Unfortunately, for the second straight year, Gonzaga will sit out from national team duties as she recovers from a knee injury she sustained in December 2017. The injury prevented her from competing in the Asian Games 2018, and it will further hinder her from joining the team for the SEA Games 2019.

But a healthy Gonzaga could easily earn a starter spot in the national team, no doubt. What sets her apart from other opposite spikers is her versatility. Quick and smart, the lefty hitter is not only a reliable scorer but is also a good floor defender.

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