This is the third and final installment of the Imagining National Team version 2.0 series.
In the first and second part of the feature series, FOX Sports Philippines listed the potential outside hitters, setters, and opposite spikers who are not part of the announced 20-woman pool of the national volleyball team.
This time, players who provide defense at the net and on the floor were enumerated. The national team could certainly uses these amazing middle blockers and liberos.
Maddie Madayag – The national team is already loaded with middle blockers in Jaja Santiago, Aby Maraño and Majoy Baron. But if there is still one more room for another one, then it should be given to Madayag. Arguably displaying her best form yet, the Ateneo hitter has been turning heads since day one of the UAAP Season 81.
Madayag is a major factor behind the Lady Eagles’ successful return to the Final Four. The towering middle blocker is the best in her position so far as she tops the blocking charts with a total of 38 kill blocks for a 0.90 average blocks per set. The Davao-born spiker is also the top scoring middle blocker at no. 9, averaging 12.18 points per game.
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) March 20, 2019
Bea de Leon – The last time de Leon donned the national team jersey was during the SEA Games 2015 in Singapore. A young player then, the Ateneo team captain has developed to be a dependable defender at the net since.
Aside from her blockings – currently second best blocker in the UAAP with 0.60 average blocks per set – de Leon’s passion on court will be her greatest addition to any team as she injects fire to her teammates whether by pumping her fists after a kill block or shouting in celebration of a good quick kill.
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) April 7, 2019
Maika Ortiz – It is still quite a mystery why Ortiz wasn’t included in the 20-woman pool, considering that she has been part of the national team since 2014 and was the most consistent middle blocker despite only being a reserve player on some occasions.
The Foton middle blocker is still one the best out there. Her patented running attacks are still one, if not the, most lethal today. And of course, her vast international experience is what makes her stand out among other hitters.
— Philippine SuperLiga Volleyball (@SuperLigaPH) March 30, 2019
Riri Meneses – UST has produced quite a lot of talented middle blockers with the likes of Roxanne Pimentel, Lilet Mabbayad, Ging Balse and Ortiz. Meneses, it seems, is one of them.
Meneses may not be as quick as de Leon nor as powerful as Ortiz, but when it comes to blocking, she’s the right girl for the job. The UAAP Season 77 Best Blocker’s main weapon is her uncanny ability to read and reject the offense of her opponents.
— Philippine SuperLiga Volleyball (@SuperLigaPH) March 2, 2019
Tatan Pantone – Pantone is still the queen libero, and even today’s best defensive aces will agree to this. Even at 30, the former Adamson libero can give her younger counterparts a run for their money as she still receives and digs the ball well.
There’s nothing flashy about how Pantone protects the floor. She just lets her statistics do the talking. And by talking she means reading the balls silently and frustrating the opponents constantly.
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) June 13, 2017
Jennifer Nierva –The country will never run out of good liberos. There’s Pantone, of course, and the national team libero Dawn Macandili, Kath Arado and Denden Lazaro. There’s also youngsters Buding Duremdes and Thang Ponce, and former greats Jen Reyes, Jheck Dionela and Tin Agno.
And now, it seems, a new legend has been born.
NU’s Nierva quickly flashed her brilliance in her UAAP debut as she currently ranked second in reception with 53.42 percent efficiency while placing fourth in digging with 6.12 average digs per set. It was the most impressive debut performance by a rookie libero since Arado’s rookie year in Season 77. With Nierva on the rise, the future of Philippine volleyball’s floor defense is in good hands.
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) March 31, 2019