Philippine women’s volleyball: my dream team

So here’s a hypothetical situation. Suppose the Southeast Asian Games were to be held in 6 months, and suppose you were the head coach of the women’s volleyball team. Which players deserve a spot in the Philippine team?

Before I enumerate my picks, here’s a photo of the team that competed in the 12th Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship in Vietnam. They lost all of their matches.

Members of the RP women's volleyball team which competed in the 2011 Asian Women's Club Volleyball Championship in Vinh Phuc, Vietnam. The players are (standing, left to right) Rachel Anne Daquis, Aiza Maizo, Nica Guliman, Cherry Rose Macatangay, Mary Jean Balse, Charmaine Velez, Tina Salak, (kneeling, left to right) Suzanne Roces, Mayette Carolino, Pau Soriano, Dahlia Cruz and Michelle Carolino.

If I were to choose 12 players, I would make sure that the following players will be recruited. Here’s my starting six:

My choice for main setter is Tina Salak. I heard that she’s been with the team for a long time already. But I picked her as main setter not simply because she’s been the national team’s setter for a long time, but because I believe she is one of the best setters we have in the country. She is effective in not only giving out sets that her hitters like the most but also giving out the sets in a manner that fools the blockers of the opposing team. Her experience surely contributes to this ability. Her height is undoubtedly also an asset because her position requires her to block open hitters who usually receive the most balls.

Tina Salak doing what she does best.

My main utility player would be Aiza Maizo. Just like Tina Salak, she has the height advantage to block the opponents’ open hitters. She has received a lot of awards from Shakey’s V League and UAAP — Best Attacker, Best Server, Best Blocker and MVP, among them. She’s a power hitter and her quick hits are deadly. She’s a total asset when she’s in the back row as well as she has good floor defense and she has excellent backrow hits. She can set the ball well too so this is definitely a plus.

The lefty Aiza Maizo has been named Best Attacker, Best Server, Best Blocker and MVP in the Shakey's V League conferences and UAAP seasons.

I would choose Rachel Anne Daquis and Alyssa Valdez as the team’s main open hitters.

Rachel Anne Daquis was the biggest revelation in the 2011 volleyball tournament in Vietnam (not to mention the cameramen seemed to have had liked her as she probably got the most air time). Daquis is a power hitter. But as we all know, volleyball is not just about power. And Daquis knows this. She is an expert in hitting balls off the block. She might have to work on her drop shots and backrow attacks though. But with intense training for 6 months, I’m sure she’ll improve whatever needs to be improved. And one more thing that I like about Daquis is that she always has the swagger. When Daquis is in the backrow, she might have to be replaced by a floor defense specialist.

Rachel Anne Daquis is a fighter and she always finds a way to score a point.

The open hitter opposite Daquis will have to be Alyssa Valdez. She’s just 18 years old but she plays like a veteran. There has been much hype about this teenager and this hype is definitely warranted. Valdez is a power hitter. But just like Daquis, she’s a smart player too and she knows when to hit the ball off the block and when to just drop it. She has good backrow attacks. And she has a good floor defense too so she doesn’t need to be replaced when she’s in the back.

18-year-old Alyssa Valdez is truly a "phenom" as she plays like a veteran.

My middle hitters would have to be Abigail Marano and Jacqueline Alarca.

I’ve always been impressed with Abigail Marano. We already saw the huge potential in her during her first UAAP playing year with DLSU but boy, she improved a lot on her second year. She has turned out to be one of DLSU’s go-to girls. Marano is quick and being quick is an important requirement for middle hitters because they should at least try to go for double blocks. This means that middle hitters must be quick enough to move from one side of the net to the other. Marano also always goes for quick hits even if she won’t be given the ball which is a plus since this fools the opponents’ blockers. Her quick hits and running spikes are excellent as they are but these can still be improved in 6 months. And this girl always has the swagger. She celebrates each point as if there’s no tomorrow. It would be great to see her and Daquis, both brimming with swagger, in a team.

Abigail Marano is quick, has good timing and has the swagger.

The middle hitter opposite Marano would have to be Jacqueline Alarca. Just like Marano, she has the height and the long arms. She’s quick too and has good block timing. Alarca graduated a few years ago and I don’t know if she’s been playing since graduation but she definitely has to undergo a rigid training to get her back in shape.

The tall Jacqueline Alarca has excellent quick hits and running spikes, good blocking and deadly serves.

My libero would have to be Jen Reyes. The photo below says it all. Reyes is one of the smallest liberos we have seen on Philippine TV but for me, she’s the best in the business. She always goes for the dig and she makes digging look easy. She has an impressive anticipation for the ball, meaning it seems like she knows where the ball is going to land. This is precisely the reason why she was responsible for something like 60% of NU’s reception during her first UAAP playing year.

This photo says it all. Jen Reyes is without doubt one of the best (if not the best) diggers in the country.

So far, I have mentioned 7 players already. 5 more.

Let me start with my second libero. I would choose Christine Agno of FEU. Just like Reyes, she is very quick and she has a good anticipation one would always wonder how she manages to come out of nowhere for the digs and receptions. She is a prized recruit of coach Nes Pamilar and it would be good to have her in the national team.

Christine Agno is making a name for herself in the libero position.

In case Salak is having a bad day, I would take Rhea Dimaculangan off the bench. She’s definitely one of the best in the business. More importantly, having a tall setter such as herself would be a huge advantage as, I have repeatedly been saying, they usually block open hitters.

UST ace setter Rhea Dimaculangan would be a good addition to the team as she is an excellent setter and she has the height advantage.

When Maizo is having a bad day, I would take Michelle Gumabao off the bench. While she has been criticized for being a trash talker, I would consider Gumabao to be one of the best utility players in the country. She’s been named Best Blocker and Best Attacker in the UAAP because of her well-timed blocks and strong attacks from the right side of the court. And speaking about trash talk, well it’s part of the game. It would be good to see her bring this attitude to the national team.

Michelle Gumabao should bring her well-timed blocks and hard-hitting spikes from DLSU to the national team.

I would also recruit Nerissa Bautista to the team. She’s versatile and can play middle or open. She’s a power hitter but she’s a thinking player as well. When she’s in the back row, she doesn’t need to be replaced by any player as she has good floor defense (beach volleyball surely honed her digging and receiving skills) and she can do backrow attacks as well.

Nerissa Bautista deserves a spot in the national team as she can play open or middle, has strong attacks, and has good floor defense.

I would also add Mayette Carolino to the team. She’s versatile as she can play hitter and setter. She has good floor defense as well.

Mayette Carolino is another versatile player who deserves a spot in the national team.

There you have it, my dream team:

1. Tina Salak*

2. Aiza Maizo*

3. Rachel Anne Daquis*

4. Alyssa Valdez*

5. Abigail Marano*

6. Jacqueline Alarca*

7. Jen Reyes*

8. Christine Agno

9. Rhea Dimaculangan

10. Michelle Gumabao

11. Nerissa Bautista

12. Mayette Carolino

Those with * after their names are my starting 6 (fine, starting 7).

I would say that the future of Philippine volleyball is not at all bleak as some would claim. In fact, I see it as very bright. Televised tournaments such as Shakey’s V League, UAAP and NCAA have played a big role in introducing once again this game to the Filipinos and we have to thank the organizers for this. We have witnessed the entry of players oozing with potential and we have seen the very same players mature with the game — the likes of Angeli Tabaquero, Charo Soriano, Manilla Santos, Lizlee Gata, and a lot more.

One thing is for sure: if we want to be at par with teams from other countries, our team needs more international exposure. This could mean either joining competitions abroad or holding invitational leagues in the country.

They say that the Philippine team used to rank higher than the Thais. But look at how far the Thai team has gone. They are now rubbing elbows with the world’s best — Brazil, China, USA. And what about our team? What has our national team achieved internationally? I believe our team has the potential to rise up again and be known as a volleyball powerhouse at least in South East Asia. But this won’t happen overnight. We need international exposure. We need funding. We don’t need politics in sports.


19 thoughts on “Philippine women’s volleyball: my dream team

  1. you forgot Maika Ortiz of UST. you’ve seen her those quick spikes during UAAP and did create impression about her being the future of womens volleyball in the country. our team needs to improve their skills in Backcourt spike but that needs a very good setter.

    • You’re right, Ortiz is definitely the future of Philippine volleyball. She is an excellent middle blocker/attacker (in fact, I ranked her third after Marano and Alarca). She also has the swag. She plays intensely as well. But the reason I didn’t include her in the top 12 is that Marano and Alarca have better block timing and have more consistent, loaded serves than her. But these things don’t take away the fact that Ortiz is one of the best in the middle position.

      I also agree with you that our national team should improve their backrow hits. In the international scene, backrow hits are always an option, giving the setter 4-5 hitters (depends on whether the libero is in the backrow or not) and not just 2-3 in the front row. I like the backrow attack of Bualee and I’m hoping that our players could learn from her.

      We have a lot of promising collegiate players. The likes of Tabaquero, Valdez, Mika Reyes, etc. And we all want them to join the national team. But there a lot of things to consider, among them meager monthly allowances. Nevertheless, I still believe that with the proper allotment of resources, our team could become a volleyball powerhouse in South East Asia in the next decade or so.

    • I also like the way Alarca plays. She may not be the strongest hitter but if she gets the timing right, she can drill the ball. She has excellent blocking. And her serves are consistent and loaded.

  2. actually small players can do back row attacks if given proper training. you must see erika ebata of the japan women’s team. i think she’s around 5’8 or 5’9 but she can do backrow attacks. don’t forget aleona denise santiago in the line up. she really has improved on her attacks. she even had added back row hits which is very hard to handle. i think alyssa valde also does that. you should see their games on uaap 75. shermaine peñano for more is the best libero i’ve ever seen played on tv. mary jean also one to look out for. she dominated the middle position when she’s still playing for ust. dzi gervacio would also be an additional to the team. she improved a lot on her jumping serves which we normally see a lot on international games. she even improved on her attacks especially on back quick and backrow kills. don’t forget michelle carolino. she has a good reception and can really attack. tabaquero is also superb on outside hits and blocking. jem ferrer is also one of the best setter on uaap. she’s small but can really do setting job for admu and can find open spots where she can drop the ball. she also been awarded for that position back in shakey’s and on uaap. just look on takeshita, japan women’s team. she’s small but can really set the ball. it’s better to have small setters because they can dig it up if it’s too low. the only problem for having a small setter is on blocking. but nevertheless, if your team has good digging skills you wouldn’t mind having one. there. maybe you can look on my suggestions. if they are qualified for the national team. hehe!

  3. i’m also trying to make up my own line up for national team which i think, if trained properly and given a lot exposures for international tournaments, would be a plus factor for us.

    setters: tina salak (considered for blocking, dropping and serving) and jem ferrer (considered for underhand sets and dropping of ball on empty spots)

    outside hitters: rachel ann daquis(considered for blocking which is one of her assets and down the line hits), tabaquero(considered for off the block hits and reception), nerissa bautista(considered for quick attacks and combination), alyssa valdez (considered for back row attacks which is one of her expertise and on service in which she can convert it into a point)

    middle hitters (which i considered on of the difficult position to find suitable players):dindin santiago(considered for her blocking, quick hits, running attacks which is one of her assets, back row hits which she improve a lot, reception which is not usually seen on tall players but she developed, and on service in which she can convert it into a point), ging balse(considered for blocking, reception and quick hits), jacq alarca(considered for quick hits, blocking, serving which we knew she can score on it, and on running attacks which she needs to develop more) and suzanne roces(considered for running attacks which is one of her expertise and placement shots)

    utility: aiza maizo(considered for blocking, quick hits, combination attacks and setting) and mayette carolino(considered for blocking, reception, outside hitting, setting and on service)

    liberos(know considered by the fivb to have each team 2 for this position): denden lazaro(considered for playing for the youth national team wherein we placed on 4th spot last 6 years ago on asian volleyball championship) and jen lazaro(considered for her improvement on this position)

    i’m also considering rhea dimaculangan(setting), nica guliman(middle hitter: blocking for height and quick hits but needs a lot of improvement), michelle gumabao(utility: blocking, setting and outside hits), michelle carolino(outside hitter: reception and outside hits), michelle laborte(middle,her position when she’s still playing for ateneo: blocking, setting and quick hits), charlene cruz(outside: blocking, outside attacks and reception), stephanie mercado(outside: outside hits and reception), dzi gervacio(utility: quick hits, back row attack, service, setting), shermaine peñano(libero, one of the best i’ve seen so far), abigail maraño(middle: quick hits, running spikes, reception), melissa gohing(libero, 4th best so far), roxanne pimentel(middle: exceptional in blocking, quick hits and running spikes which she made her known back in ust), venus bernal(outside hits and combination), lu ann latigay(outside hits), rysabelle devanadera(middle:can really do quick hits and blocking and she leaps high that made her head above the net).

    i have more players in mind to put here. but one things for sure that this country needed is to develop tournaments here in the country that can help these players hone their skills and exposure to international games. added support financially, emotionally and morally are also needed. hope we can become one of the powerhouse in southeast asia then afterwards in asia and considered for world. hope there would also filipino players with foreign blood to be added in the line up because they were trained aboard more than our own pinay players. hehe!

  4. Tabaquero is one player who should not be left out,she is versatile,i think gumabao, marano and alarca should be replaced by a more effective, versatle and graceful players

  5. maka la salle pre , sa totoo lng venus bernal is the best outside hitter ngyon. sa pinas 2nd c valdez . utility aiza maizo or I develop c dindin santiago. sa middle jaja I develop nila ortiz din sa setter c rhea dimaculangan at tina salak , idevelop nila c gonzaga at yari yongco,

    • Naku, isang taon na ang lumipas nang isulat ko ito. I definitely need to make an updated Dream Team after watching the comeback of legends like Bernal and Tabaquero, thanks to Superliga and Shakey’s V-League Season X. And yes, Bernal should be on the team. Pati sina Gonzaga at Yongco.

  6. for me best setters are Fajardo,and Morado even though they are young the play like a veterans,My other setters also include Tina Salak,May Macatuno and Rubie De Leon .Santiago twin towers are also part of my dream line up as middle blockers they can do blocks,aces,quick hits,and running attacks same with Amy Ahomiro and Bea De leon .Alyssa Valdez,Victonara Galang,Ces Molina,Rachelle Daquis,Aiza Maizo-Pontillas,Ange Tabaquero,Jing Balse,Jovelyn Gonzaga and Maika Ortiz are my spikers.Blockers like Abby Marano,Stephanie Mercado,Kathy Bersola and Mika Reyes. Libero’s like Den-Den Lazaro(ADMU),Jen Reyes(NU),Lizlee Ann Gata-Pantone(AdU),Ma. Arielle Estranero(UP), and Tin Agno(FEU)

  7. you need the santiago, sisters in the team to be a more competitive team,you include tonelada, she is the best setter i have seen so far,also yungco, i think we have a better chance in the up coming s.e.asian game

  8. For Outside Spikers
    Alyssa Valdez
    Ara Galang
    Myla Pablo
    Gretchel Soltones

    For Middle Blockers
    Jaja Santiago
    Dindin Santiago
    Majoy Baron
    Kathy Bersola

    For Opposite Spikers
    Jovs Gonzaga
    Aiza Maizo

    Kim Fajardo
    Jia Morado

    Denden Lazaro
    Dawn Macandilo

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