‘We gave our all’: Jia De Guzman proud of Creamline-PH’s AVC Cup stint
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine women’s volleyball team captain Jia De Guzman is satisfied with her team’s sixth-place finish in the AVC Cup after going through a lot of battles.
The Philippines, made up of the Premier Volleyball League champions Creamline Cool Smashers but minus their star spiker Alyssa Valdez, still achieved its best finish in the tournament, despite being a last-minute replacement for the National University Lady Bulldogs.
But De Guzman, who was part of the national squad that finished ninth in its first AVC Cup appearance in 2018, believes Creamline could have had an even better result with more preparation time and a healthy Valdez. Valdez missed the tournament due to dengue.
“I’m very proud of my teammates because we really went through a lot since playing in the PVL, where we gave our all, and then we had a late notice that we were going to step up for the Philippines in the AVC. But we’re very happy with the wins and the things we learned. It will help us improve, although a lot of what ifs happened,” said De Guzman in Filipino after a 26-28, 21-25, 21-25 defeat to Chinese Taipei in the battle for fifth on Monday at PhilSports Arena.
“It could have been different also if we had more time to prepare, but the whole team was very willing to step up to the opportunity, and we’re very grateful for it,” she added.
De Guzman even missed the opener with head coach Sherwin Meneses due to health and safety protocols.
But when she returned, De Guzman showed just how vital she was on the team as her topnotch playmaking further elevated the game of wing spikers Jema Galanza, Tots Carlos, and Michele Gumabao as well as middle blockers Celine Domingo and Jeanette Panaga to win two of their three Pool A games against Iran and South Korea and reach the quarterfinals.
The home team put up a gallant stand against regional powerhouse Thailand in a four-set loss before beating Australia with a come-from-behind five-set win and suffering a tough loss to Chinese Taipei to wrap up its stretch of six games in seven days.
The Ateneo standout said the experience in the AVC Cup is “priceless” and will help them in Creamline’s bid for a third straight title in the PVL Reinforced Conference and in representing the country anew in the Asean Grand Prix from September 9 to 11 in Thailand.
“The wins and lessons we got are so priceless. This will help us in the PVL or whenever we get the chance to play internationally again, we will take it and keep on improving,” De Guzman said. “At the end of the day, sixth place in the AVC, that’s something to be proud of. That’s still a big improvement. The answer to taking Philippine volleyball to greater heights is long-term preparation, long-term system.”
De Guzman and the rest of the Cool Smashers return to practice on Thursday hoping to iron out some kinks. They face Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia in the first leg of the 2022 Asean Grand Prix.
“I think for our team, the basic errors are something that we did try to remedy. There were games that we improved it. But it really spells the difference in giving up a point to our opponents because of a basic error. We have to improve that for our next tournament,” she said.