National

Hard route back to old glory

Hard route back to old glory

Philippine women’s volleyball has drawn a road map—and a lot of flak—for its return to glory. But it is willing to take the hard path to success.

The sport is hinging its future on a 23-strong pool that is heavy on young, untested players who will have to “develop physical work so they can support a progressive workload,” according to a foreign coach.

The goal is to bring back the Philippines its old lofty perch when it won six Southeast Asian Games gold medals from 1977 to 1993.

Brazilian Olympic champion coach Jorge Edson Souza de Brito stressed the need to develop “taller, younger athletes.” The national pool has taken quite the hit from fans, particularly on the absence of 28-year-old Alyssa Valdez, the 5-foot-9 outside hitter who is one of the two best players in the country along with Jaja Santiago.

Instead, the PH team is now anchoring its rise on the likes of 21-year-olds Faith Nisperos (5-foot-11) and Ivy Lacsina (6-foot-1), 20-year-old Imee Hernandez (5-foot-11), 19-year-old Mhicaela Belen (5-foot-7) and 18-year-old libero Bernadette Pepito.

Among the holdovers are Aby Maraño, the 28-year-old, 5-foot-9 middle blocker and former team captain of the national squad and 30-year-old setter Rhea Dimaculangan.

“Volleyball is business, and as such, it needs to be thought of in the medium and long term,” said De Brito.