Majoy Baron, Iris Tolenada try luck in Korean V-League
MANILA, Philippines—F2 Logistics pair Majoy Baron and Iris Tolenada hope to realize their dream of playing overseas as they try their luck in the Korean V-League.
Baron and Tolenada were part of the 24 aspirants for the Asian quota of the Korean Volleyball Federation (KOVO) along with fellow Premier Volleyball League stars Creamline setter Jia De Guzman, Akari star Dindin Santiago-Manabat, and Chery Tiggo skipper Mylene Paat.
The F2 Logistics middle blocker received an offer from Top Seed Volleyball Club in Taiwan last May 2021 but the competition was postponed due to the number of COVID-19 cases.
Baron got another chance to play abroad as she and her fellow Filipinos already sent video clips to KOVO with the V-League announcing the imports through an online ceremony on April 21.
“Dream pa rin namin, parang next step na yun for us na makapaglaro internationally. Hangga’t may opportunity na dumadating, why not kunin kasi hindi natin alam hanggang kailan may nagiinvite sa atin so excited ako,” Baron said after scoring nine points in F2 Logistics’ 20-25, 25-22, 25-18, 25-17 over PLDT in Game 1 of the battle for third on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
(It’s our dream. This is the next step for us to play internationally. As long as there is an opportunity, why not grab it. We don’t know until when we’ll receive this kind of invitation. I’m excited.)
Baron said she got her opportunity through Jaja Santiago’s manager, while Tolenada bared that her manager Vania Edralin pushed her to try her luck.
“I think every volleyball player who continues to have big dreams should do it anyway,” said Tolenada. “I think any athlete who wants to dream big should go for their dreams and see what happens. I think Majoy and I have worked hard. I think everyone who applied has worked hard all their careers so it’s just an opportunity. As an opportunist, I think it’s exciting. no matter what, we know that we worked our butts off and gotten better so I’m excited for the both of us no matter what happens.”
Veteran setter Tolenada said the opening of Asian Quota in South Korea is a great opportunity for Philippine volleyball players.
“There is more out there. Me being a FilAm, I already know there’s a different environment in the volleyball world but again I think the greatest athletes and anyone who wants to continue improving their career should go for it no matter what,” she said. “It’s also a great life experience outside of volleyball. You get to experience different cultures, different food and get to pursue more things in life.”
“The level of play in Korea is higher compared here in the Philippines. So we have to be more prepared if we make it. We’re always working hard every training and me and Iris will prepare if we make it,” Baron said in Filipino.
Baron and Tolenada said the Cargo Movers are very supportive of both of them. If they make the cut, their contract in Korea will be from August to May.
“We talked with our coaches and teammates. Reached out to people who want to see us grow and being part of F2 is family and family wants to help others grow. And again, reach for their dreams. No matter what happens, they’re proud of us and we’re very thankful and we’re thankful that they allowed us to be part of this journey,” Tolenada said. “Whether we get chosen or not, they’ve helped us no matter what and helped us get better mentally and physically and help us improve in volleyball which we want to do.”
KOVO also invited four Filipino men’s players out of 32 Asian players for a chance to play in the Korean V-League.
Marck Espejo eyes his fourth overseas country to play as an import after his campaigns in Japan, Thailand, and Bahrain. His Cignal teammates JP Bugaoan, and Manuel Sumanguid were also invited.
National team star Jau Umandal, who played in Bahrain last year, will also try to earn his second overseas stint.