Phl Team gets boost

The national women’s team got a timely boost following the inclusion of star setter Jia de Guzman and head coach Sherwin Meneses in the ongoing Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup for Women at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

In a text message to Daily Tribune, Meneses said he is thrilled to handle the Nationals and serve as head coach for the first time in his young coaching career.

Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei grabbed its first win following a thrilling 23-25, 25-22, 25-27, 25-21, 15-6 victory over Australia.

De Guzman and Meneses were initially part of the national squad, which is composed of the newly-crowned Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference champion Creamline.

But they were placed under safety protocols shortly after their championship run, prompting the Cool Smashers to scratch them off the roster against Southeast Asian rival Vietnam.

With De Guzman and Meneses out, as well as star spiker Alyssa Valdez and Risa Sato, the Vietnamese creamed the Filipinas, 25-19, 25-17, 31-29, to deal their first loss in this prestigious Asian tournament.

The Nationals, however, still have a chance to bounce back as De Guzman and Meneses are on the bench when they battle former Olympic champion China in their second game in the preliminaries.
The home team and the Chinese are still clashing at press time.

“This will be my first time coaching the Philippines and I’m excited for it,” said Meneses, who was part of the coaching staff of the men’s national team that clinched a historic silver medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019.

He also led Creamline to a pair of PVL titles after helping Thai coach Tai Bundit in the collegiate, club and international levels.

“It’s a privilege for us representing the Philippines in the AVC. We always want to improve our team every game.”

He added that De Guzman’s presence is a big boost to their campaign.

“It’s a big factor that Jia will be with us. Even without Alyssa, Jia is a great leader like Michele (Gumabao),” he said.

“Everyone can be a leader, but it’s really different when Jia is with us. She’s very competitive and her experience as a player will help the team a lot.”

There is a pressing need for De Guzman to see action.

Against Vietnam, the firepower of Gumabao, PVL Invitationals Most Valuable Players Tots Carlos and Celine Domingo and Jeanette Panaga was very limited.

After all, De Guzman is a six-time PVL Best Setter who has a massive international experience, including in the SEA Games, Asian Games and various club tourneys.

While De Guzman’s return is something to look forward to, Meneses said the Filipinas still have to improve their ball distribution against tougher opponents in a bid to book a victory that will send them to the quarterfinals.

“Our passing was not good against Vietnam. It is an international game so you have play at your highest level,” Meneses said.

“We will try to perform good on our last three games so we can advance to quarterfinals.”

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