Well, the title says it all! My personal list is composed of collegiate standouts — both young and veterans. I’ve been following Shakey’s V-League and UAAP for at least five years now, and I believe that if the following girls will represent the country in the next South East Asian (SEA) Games, then we will have a good chance at getting that gold medal. Let me know what you think in the Comments section!
The pictures below are NOT MINE. I took them all from NSAPP’s (Nikon Sports and Action Photographers of the Philippines) Facebook page, and I have no intention of taking credits at all. Photographers include Cesar O. Bailen, Jr., Ramil Basical, Jamil Buergo among others. Photo credits definitely go to them.
Let’s start with the playmakers — our Setters. I’d have two in my team: Ateneo’s Julia Morado and La Salle’s Kim Fajardo. And I picked them not just because they are the top two setters, statistically speaking, in UAAP Season 76. Both are young. But both are years ahead their age. Both are tall too, which is always an advantage when you’re in the front line. I feel like Coach Anusorn Bundit has had a huge impact on Jia. He has mentored her well. Jia has a natural ability to make excellent sets even if her teammates give her crappy receptions. Same is true for Kim under the coaching of Ramil de Jesus. And, I’ll say this again, both Jia and Kim are still young! Given proper training, they will be as good as Thailand’s Tomkom Nootsara … even better!
Ateneo’s rookie ace setter Julia Morado has the makings of a national team setter.
La Salle’s Kim Fajardo has the smarts and the height.
I’ve listed down three Open Hitters — Ateneo’s Alyssa Valdez, UST’s Angge Tabaquero, and La Salle’s Ara Galang. They are strong hitters. They are smart players. And more importantly, they are good passers and diggers — which is a must for an Open Hitter because they stay on court all the time! Again, passing and digging are two very important skills that an Open Hitter should have (unless the libero substitutes for her when she’s in the backrow — but this is not usually the case). Alyssa has proven herself as Ateneo’s go-to player. Boy does she drill that volleyball when she makes full contact with it! Same is true for Angge and Ara. What I really like about Angge, aside from the fact that she makes digging look easy, is she never lacks spunk. She’s such a presence on court. Ara, on the other hand, is a darling. She has this angelic face but when it’s crunch time, she’s always game face. Having any of these three Open Hitters in the backrow is like having one more libero.
Ateneo’s Alyssa Valdez may be the best all-around open hitter in the Philippines today.
This is what I’m talking about! Angge Tabaquero of UST makes digging look easy! Plus she’s got a really high vertical and a thunderous hit, you wonder where she gets all that power from her skinny built.
La Salle’s Ara Galang may be gifted with an angelic face but she morphs into a beast on court!
I have three Middle Hitters on my list — NU’s Dindin and Jaja Santiago and UST’s Maika Ortiz. I was actually debating with myself if I should put Dindin as Opener, but I personally think she’s better off as Middle. Dindin plays with a lot of heart. Her middle attacks and running hits are probably the best in the country (that’s why I think she should keep playing Middle). Plus, she’s got good serves, too. Jaja, Dindin’s younger sister, is oozing with potential. At 6’5″, she’s taken full advantage of her height by closing the blocks set up by the left and right-side hitters, and then pressing those blocks down. She’s got wicked front and back quick hits as well. I would love to see her do effective running hits! But she can learn them from the ever-reliable Maika. She’s not the tallest of middle hitters but I think it’s her timing that makes her deserving of a spot in the national team. I honestly think Maika’s got one of the best running hits in the country. I saw her play for the Shakey’s Team in the competition in Vietnam, and the opponents were having a hard time defending her hits.
Oh boy, this picture says it all. That’s NU’s Dindin Santiago hitting a frontline attack for sure!
NU’s rookie middle hitter Jaja Santiago was born to play volleyball. She’s got all the makings to become the country’s most effective and most intimidating middle hitter.
UST’s Maika Ortiz may not be the tallest middle hitter out there but her consistent and well-timed blocks and running hits are among the country’s best.
For Opposite Hitters, I listed down Central Philippine University’s Jovelyn Gonzaga and UST’s Aiza Maizo-Pontillas. Jovelyn has made a name for herself by being Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference MVP, what with her powerful attacks from the right side, superb digging skills and wicked serves. Aiza has also been awarded MVP a few times both in the UAAP and Shakey’s V-League. Aiza is an all-around player and deserves a spot in the team — in fact, she would probably be the most veteran already. Did you see her tricky play against China? That was hilarious!
Lefty Jovelyn Gonzaga of CPU is among the best all-arounders. She plays with a lot of heart and definitely deserves a spot in the national team.
Veteran Aiza Maizo of UST has gotten back to her college playing shape and is one of the most powerful right-wing hitters in the nation.
Doing libero duties are Ateneo’s Denden Lazaro and NU’s Jen Reyes. I believe that they are the two best liberos of today’s generation. Have you seen Denden’s pancakes in UAAP Season 76’s AdMU-NU Do-or-Die Game? How about Jen sacrificing her small body to get the dig for her team? These two have an uncanny ability to read their opponents and they position themselves well to make excellent passes and digs. And I can’t wait to see them dig the balls coming from powerhouse Thailand’s Onuma Sittirak, Pleumjit Thinkaow and Wilavan Apinyapong.
Ateneo’s Denden Lazaro has been one of the most consistent liberos in collegiate volleyball. She took things a notch higher this season as she was named Best Digger and Best Receiver for UAAP Season 76.
I can stare at this picture every day and I won’t stop saying that Jen Reyes of National University is among the best liberos in the Philippines today.
There you have it! My 12-woman roster for the SEA Games! Actually, you can replace SEA Games with whatever international competition, but the reason I chose it is because I believe the team should have enough time practicing and playing together. Two years is more than enough for them to jell together, and play with club teams abroad before they try to go for the gold come 2015.
What do you think of my Dream Team? Who’s on yours? And for which reasons?