ALYSSA Valdez, Jia de Guzman, Tots Carlos and Jema Galanza will spearhead the 14-member national team eyeing Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup glory as the nine-day event unfurls on Sunday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
Also making the team were Risa Sato, Ced Domingo, Jeanette Panaga, Michele Gumabao, Ella de Jesus, Pau Soriano, Kyla Atienza, Kyle Negrito, Rose Vargas and Fille Cayetano, who were also part of the Creamline team that earned the right to represent the country by topping the Premier Volleyball League Invitational recently.
Sherwin Meneses will coach the team and will have a staff consisting of Karlo Santos, Bok Morado and Mark Caron.
The squad resumed practice on Wednesday, or just a few days before the meet unfurls.
While expectations were tempered due to lack of time to prepare, there were high hopes the host country could give the visiting teams consisting of the best in Asia a run for their money.
Or the least the team could do is improve on a ninth-place finish in the 2018 edition of the same meet in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
That would be a feat on itself considering that Creamline was just a last-minute replacement after the Philippine National Volleyball Federation relieved National University of its national team duties to avoid their players from sustaining injuries.
Interestingly, Mses. Valdez, De Guzman, Galanza and Sato were part of that team in Nakhon Ratchasima.
“We’ll do our best to make the country proud,” said Mr. Meneses.
The country was bracketed in Pool A composed of China, Vietnam, Iran and South Korea, or what many believed as the “Group of Death.”
The Filipinas battle the Vietnamese, the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games silver medalists on Sunday, the Chinese, the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games gold winners on Tuesday, the Iranians on Wednesday and the Koreans, the Asiad silver winners on Thursday.
The other group consisting of Japan, Thailand and Australia was reduced to three after Kazakhstan’s recent withdrawal.
The national women’s team needs to finish in the top four in Pool A to qualify for the quarterfinals. The fifth-placed team in Pool A will finish in ninth place. — Joey Villar