The Philippines sets in motion its Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Cup for Women campaign in Pool A against Vietnam Sunday night at the PhilSports Arena.
A good start is what the national women’s team, especially since it will face a young Vietnamese squad looking to gain experience in the tournament before Filipino fans at 7 p.m.
Aside from skipper Alyssa Valdez, who was ruled out due to dengue and was replaced by outside spiker Rizza Mandapat during the preliminary inquiry Friday, the hosts will also be without middle blocker Risa Sato, who will also miss the tournament due to health issues and rookie Lorie Bernardo took over her position.
With the core of newly-crowned Premier Volleyball League champion Creamline, the Philippines will rely on its tried and tested chemistry, with starters Jia de Guzman, Tots Carlos, Ced Domingo, Jema Galanza, Jeanette Panaga, and Michele Gumabao leading the way.
“We have setbacks because of health issues, but we are very positive,” said Gumabao during Saturday’s press conference at Discovery Suites.
“We look forward to playing tomorrow. We are one team, one professional team. I think we are already jelled and know each other. That’s one of our greatest advantage in the tournament,” the veteran opposite spiker added.
After taking a Monday off, the Philippines will play five-time winners China on Tuesday and will face Iran on Wednesday before wrapping up its pool play stint against South Korea on Thursday.
The national women’s team looks to become one of the top four teams in Pool A to qualify for the quarterfinals. The fifth-placed team in Pool A will finish in ninth place.
“We have the opportunity to play in an international setting. It will be a challenge for us,” said Gumabao. “We are also young in terms of international play. We are here to learn. We want you to be everybody proud.”
The Philippines finished ninth in the most recent edition in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand in 2018. There was no AVC Cup for Women in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pool B was reduced to four teams after the withdrawal of Kazahkstan. Japan, Thailand, Chinese-Taipei and Australia comprise Pool B.
Control Committee President Dr. Eom Han Joo, who was with Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) President Ramon “Tats” Suzara, said that the AVC Cup for Women will be having a challenge system available in the matches.
“We will do our best for you to enjoy this championship. We really appreciate the Philippines hosting this tournament,” said Eom.
“Everything is on the right track. Everything will be nice and calm,” Eom said.
Starting in 2023, the AVC Cup for Women will be held every year to serve as a qualification tournament for the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Challenger Cup, which is a qualifier for the Volleyball Nations League. The AVC Cup for Women was used to be held every two years.
“This championship is very important from now on and in the future,” said Eom. (Peter Atencion/ PNVF Communication Commission)