By Jean Malanum

POWERFUL SPIKE. The Philippines’ Sisi Rondina unleashes a powerful spike against the taller Australians during the bronze medal match of the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup for Women at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum on May 29, 2024. The Philippines won, 25-23, 25-15, 25-7. (AVC photo)

MANILA – Collegiate players will be added to the national women’s volleyball team, which bagged the bronze medal last Wednesday in the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup for Women.

Alas Pilipinas defeated Australia, 25-23, 25-15, 25-7, to register the historic performance before a jampacked crowd at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

“The intention is to keep this team intact with additional athletes from the college ranks,” said Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) president Ramon “Tats” Suzara on Thursday.

“It’s a breakthrough, it’s historic, and the obvious next step is to keep this team intact and make it stronger and much more competitive. And next year, in the SEA Games, I believe we’ll have a very strong fighting chance,” he added.

Thailand will be hosting the 33rd SEA Games in December next year.

Suzara said the PNVF wants Jorge Edson Souza de Brito to stay as head coach of the women’s program, but the Brazilian’s three-year contract will end next month and he is assigned to Chinese Taipei under the FIVB empowerment program.

De Brito had barely two weeks to assemble and prepare the Alas Pilipinas for the AVC Challenge Cup for Women and the Filipino spikers performed well.

The national team roster is composed of Premier Volleyball League players Jia Morado-de Guzman, Cherry Nunag, Dell Palomata, Dawn Macandili-Catindig, Eya Laure, Faith Nisperos, Fifi Sharma, Jennifer Nierva, Sisi Rondina and Vanessa Gandler, and collegiate players Angel Canino, Julia Coronel and Thea Gagate of De La Salle, National University’s Aly Solomon and Bella Belen and Casiey Dongallo (University of the East).

Suzara described the line-up as a potent mix, saying “the Alas Pilipinas is a combination of veterans and youngsters who will guarantee succession in the organization.”

The Philippines never finished better than fourth place in an Asian level competition although it won the gold medal in the SEA Games in 1977, 1979, 1981, 1985, 1987, and 1993. (PNA)