Bella Belen, other NU stars lead PH team in AVC Cup
MANILA, Philippines — UAAP rookie MVP Bella Belen and her champion teammates from National University will spearhead the rebirth of the Philippine women’s volleyball team in the AVC Cup from August 21 to 29 at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) on Saturday released the 14-member team, which will embark a new era of the women’s national team in the continental tournament.
Twelve of the 14-woman team are from UAAP Season 84 champion NU led by Belen, who became the league’s first-ever women’s volleyball player to win MVP and Rookie of the Year awards simultaneously.
Joining Belen is Finals MVP Princess Robles, UAAP Best Setter Lams Lamina, Best Libero Jennifer Nierva, Best Opposite Spiker Alyssa Solomon, Best 2nd Best Middle Blocker Sheena Toring, Ivy Lacsina, Kamille Cal, Joyme Cagande, and Nicole Mata.
Incoming NU rookies Evangeline Alinsug and libero Shaira Jardio were also called up for their first seniors’ national team stint even before making their UAAP debut next year.
Completing the young core under Brazilian coach Jorge Souza de Brito are Adamson standout Trisha Genesis and California Academy star Jelaica Gajero. NU head coach Karl Dimaculangan is also part of de Brito’s coaching staff with fellow assistant coach Cherry Macatangay, trainer Jerome Guhit and physical therapist Grace Gomez.
Robles, Toring, Cagande, Mata, Alinsug, and Jardio were late additions as several names from the initial pool were not released by their schools like La Salle and University of Santo Tomas.
Ateneo’s Faith Nisperos, AC Miner, and Vanie Gandler were also part of the initial call-up but were not part of the final cut.
The Philippines is slated in Pool A against defending champion China, powerhouse South Korea, Iran, and Vietnam.
Forming Pool B are Japan, the 2018 runner-up, Southeast Asia champion Thailand, Kazakhstan, Chinese Taipei and Australia.
Belen and Co. will compete in the semifinal round of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference as the national team replaces Japan’s Kobe Shinwa University, which begged off from joining after one of its players tested positive for COVID-19.
The young national team will face Creamline, led by Open Conference MVP Tots Carlos and national team stars Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza, and Jia De Guzman on Monday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The AVC Cup’s preliminary round is set from Aug. 21 to 25 with the Filipinos facing Vietnam on Aug.21, China on Aug. 23, Iran on Aug. 24, and South Korea on Aug. 25.
The knockout quarterfinals are set on Aug. 27 with the semifinals set for Aug. 28 and the qualification matches and final on Aug. 29.
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