Veteran opposite hitter Aiza Maizo-Pontillas is set to fill in for open spiker Kalei Mau in the Philippine national women’s volleyball team competing in the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games after the latter’s removal from the team due to ineligibility issues.
National team head coach Shaq Delos Santos confirmed Maizo-Pontillas will replace Mau in the team to compete in the regional meet for the second time in her career.
The 6-foot-2 open spiker was removed from the tricolor squad after failing to meet the two-year residency required by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), according to Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI) president Joey Ramasanta.
“We don’t want to jeopardize whatever problem she may encounter along the way. She could get suspended if she plays without securing transfer papers from the federation,” Romasanta said.
Delos Santos said Mau’s departure will prove difficult for the team’s campaign to end their podium finish drought in the SEA Games due to new adjustments in their lineup.
“Malaking pagsubok na naman sa amin kasi adjustment na naman doon sa team,” delos Santos said.
With the Fil-Hawaiian spiker out of the team, the tricolor squad is left with Alyssa Valdez, Ces Molina, and newcomer Eya Laure as open spikers.
Having Maizo-Pontillas, Jovelyn Gonzaga, and Mylene Paat as the team’s three opposite spikers, Delos Santos said he is also training Paat to play as an open hitter for additional options.
“Magiging dalawa ang pwesto niya in case na kailanganin namin siya sa outside. May tatlo pa naman tayong outside hitters, [so] depende iyan sa ilalaro at sa diskarte naming gagawin,” the head coach said.