SEA Games: PH women’s volleyball team out to seize best shot at podium finish

The national women’s volleyball team huddles after a training session in Brazil. —JUNE NAVARRO

HANOI — A veteran of three previous Southeast Asian Games campaigns, Alyssa Valdez feels that this is the best chance for the country to land a podium finish.

Easily the most recognizable faces in the squad teeming with superstars, the 28-year-old open spiker said they had a great training camp that included two-week long stint in Brazil.

“It was good. We played against strong, young teams,” said Valdez. Volleyball starts Friday Dai Yen Sports Arena in Quang Ninh, two hours away from here.

It is actually the men’s volleyball that is in the gold medal discussion, having beaten powerhouse Thailand in 2019 in winning silver back in Manila.

But anticipation is much, much higher for the popular women’s team which also powered by stars Jaja Santiago, Aby Marano, Ces Molina and Kat Tolentino.

The last time the Philippines won a gold in women’s volleyball in 1993. Thailand has since won every gold medal in the last 13 SEA Games stagings.

After a 10-year absence from the biennial meet, the Philippines returned in 2015 Singapore SEA Games. Two years ago, Olympic champion coach Jorge Souza de Brito of Brazil went on board to complete the fine-tune the women’s squad.

Beach volleyball, which will banner crowd-pleasing tandem of Cherry Ann Rondina and Bernandeth Pons, will begin competitions on Sunday.

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