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Volleybelles rue lack of preparation

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PNVF | THE national women’s volleyball team starts its hunt for its first SEA Games medal in 18 years.

Everything all boils down to the importance of longer preparation as well as consistent and better program for the national women’s volleyball team.

Setter Jia Morado-de Guzman underscored these valuable points as takeaways after a podium finish eluded the Philippines once again in the 32nd Southeast Asia Games women’s volleyball event in Cambodia.

The highly-popular national squad gave Indonesia a run for its money in the battle for bronze but fell short, 20-25,                              25-22, 22-25, 23-25, Sunday night at the Olympic Complex Indoor Main Hall.

With this, the Filipina spikers will return home emptyhanded and will wait for another two years for a chance to end their medal drought that started after they won bronze in the 2005 edition of the biennial meet in Bacolod.

De Guzman felt that they could go toe-to-toe with the Indonesians skills-wise but their familiarity and team chemistry built from playing together for a long time was their biggest advantage.

The Nationals had an opportunity to extend the match to a fifth set but costly errors and miscommunication down the stretch doomed their chances.

“It was anybody’s ball game. But also, it all boils down to team chemistry. How much you know each other inside the court,” the prized playmaker, who made her fourth tour of duty in the SEA Games, said.

“We had a lot of crucial miscommunications. Balls that we could’ve controlled better. Those things, you get by playing together for a long time.”

“That’s the biggest advantage Indonesia has against us.”

Team captain Alyssa Valdez agrees, saying that their very limited time together made it tough for them to win in the biennial meet.

“It’s not easy to prepare for just a month and perform a different system as well,” Valdez said.

“Everybody delivered and did their part until the end. You can see how committed they are to represent the country and I think that’s one of the good signs we have.”

It was the fourth straight time that the Filipinas came close to stepping back to the podium since 2017.

The Nationals were also defeated by the Indonesians for bronze in the 2019 Manila edition and in last year’s pandemic-delayed Hanoi Games.

Despite the Philippine National Volleyball Federation having seven Creamline players selected for the national team and reinforced by other club league stars, the fact that the squad was only assembled early this year with just a few months of training proved to be crucial.

Since the country started fielding entries back in the SEA Games after a decade of absence in 2015, the team has undergone several roster and coaching changes. Switching system after system, the squad never got a chance to fully develop into a cohesive unit.

Player availability and having a solid long-term program and commitment by the federation have also been big issues.

“That’s what we can take away from this,” De Guzman said.

“Hopefully, in the long run, we’ll have longer preparation time (for the next competitions).”

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