Part 2: Assessing PH women’s volleyball
We end our two-part analysis of the recent performances of the Philippine women’s volleyball national team with the aim to provide an objective evaluation that may help its journey back to Asian competitions.
Coach Mac Gepuela currently coaches the middle school team of Miriam College and has produced champion squads there at different levels. She is also the soothing and informative live game announcer of the Premier Volleyball League. For the national team, she suggests a long-term program anchored on a vision, leadership, training, competition at various levels, financial support and proper coordination among the various volleyball stakeholders.
Gepuela recommends a five-year program “designed by the best and most experienced coaches.” She also suggests a Coaches Commission “backed by the national sports association could be initiated where the members of this group are some of the most experienced and knowledgeable coaches we have. This group can also set the parameters for an organized training program.”
Competition is a good barometer for gauging the performance level of athletes, as well as coaches.
Gepuela clarifies though: “We have a lot of tournaments ongoing and that’s why we are able to come up with an “instant team” when an international tournament nears. Yet, the level of competition is below standard for international competition, as can be clearly evidenced by our final team standings in the most recent years.”
Former Santo Tomas setter Denise Tan and Gepuela agree that to reap dividends the national team must stay together longer to hone teamwork and kapit (holding together) especially in tough matches.
“Our athletes and coaches need time to gel properly and develop that sense of team or working and playing together,” Gepuela adds.
Just like coach and analyst Tex Suter, Gepuela recommends an accent on height and speed in selecting players and playing. The game today relies on quickness, not just in defending spikes or keeping the ball alive. Open spikes are fine but middle and combination plays have to be concealed deftly with quickness and precision. Suter compares volleyball today to athletics sprint events.
“Don’t expect a runner to win if you keep sending one to a sprint event,” Suter said.
The Jakarta Asian Games and the Thailand Asian Volleyball Championship stints were meant to prepare the team for the 2019 Manila Southeast Asian Games. We can expect the competition to be tough, especially against powerhouse Thailand.
The team can match up against Indonesia as seen in the Asian Games and may just need some additional training and competitive time together to steal the thunder from the Indonesians.
Over the last 14 years, we have seen the emergence of truly talented Filipino players for every volleyball position.
The challenge now is to develop teamwork and consistency for a squad that is already committed to the national cause. They only have to be given the tools and opportunities to perform even better.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.