Best of 2015: My picks for Best Filipino, international volleyball players and teams

TOP 10 BEST LOCAL PLAYERS

10. Ara Galang (La Salle, winger)

10 - Galang

Of course, no list will be complete without this amazing scorer from La Salle. It sucks though that Ara Galang had to suffer an injury this year. We could have witnessed even more amazing stuff from her in different offseason leagues. But I’m sure she will be back. Hopefully, she will have the same form and she will get even better in her last year in the UAAP. Our country needs a player like her.

9. Ish Polvorosa (Ateneo/U23/SEAG, setter)

09 - Polvorosa

No other setter stood out this year as Ish Polvorosa. He was clearly the hands down best setter in the country in 2015. He reminds me so much of a Toniutti, Christenson or Iran’s Marouflakrani. He has steady setting, very good blocking as well as serving. Safe to say that he’s an all around setter and he’s definitely someone we need for our national team. What’s even more interesting is that he’s young and he has more years to improve.

8. Mark Alfafara (UST/PLDT, winger)

08 - Alfafara

A friend told me that Alfafara is like a Cuban or a South American player. He’s such a monster inside the court. And I agree. He’s a big scoring threat against any team his team faces. He was able to show that this year in the UAAP as well as in Spikers’ Turf. He showed us what he can do with all his backrow attacks and wing hits. Hoping he can also do those stuff in the international scene. We really need him.

7. Myla Pablo (NU/Philips Gold/U23/SEAG, outside)

06 - Pablo

I don’t want to say that Myla Pablo improved. Why? I kind of knew she always had it in her to be an awesome and great player. And this year, she proved that she’s really one of the best out there. Her game smarts improved by a mile. She’s not just all power anymore. Likewise, she was able to inject leadership in her playing style, which is good since I think it’s one of the things she lacked before. If she will continue to play this way in 2016, she will be a big threat in the UAAP, Superliga, V-League or any other leagues out there.

6. Howard Mojica (EAC/PLDT, outside)

07 - Mojica

I am such a big fan of silent assasins. And Howard Mojica embodies that. He’s a quiet type of player but damn, when he leaps for a spike, it’s like an almost sure point. Just give the ball to him and he will always find a way to score. Mojica had a blast this year, winning a championship in the NCAA as well as Spikers’ Turf. Good thing there are men’s volleyball leagues right now so we can always see his greatness out of the NCAA.

5. Julia Morado (Ateneo/U23/SEAG, setter)

05 - Morado

Smoothness. Yup. That’s the best way to describe Morado’s setting. She improved even more this year especially with her amazing blocking and great serving. She added more options to her already incredible contribution to the Ateneo and Philippine team. A lot of people are already saying that she’s the best in the country now, and I agree. Like other young players, it’s good that we are already exposing her to the international scene. We really need a talented player like her playing for the Philippine team.

4. Ysay Marasigan (Ateneo/U23/SEAG, opposite)

04 - Marasigan

When you talk about versatility, no other player can display that well than Ysay Marasigan. The guy had an amazing year. After leading his team to the first UAAP championship, the Ateneo team captain also led his team to a clean sweep run in the Spikers’ Turf and a UAAP Beach Volleyball championship, with him being the MVP. It will be his last year in the UAAP but as I said, good thing we have a lot of men’s volleyball leagues now, because it would be oh-so nice to see him display his skills outside of Ateneo.

3. Jaja Santiago (NU/PLDT/Foton/U23/SEAG, middle)

03 - Santiago

Jaja Santiago was able to finally showcase her greatness this year. Her game improved a lot, the moment NU got Coach Roger Gorayeb and when he was under Coach Tai for two national team stints. This is such an interesting development not just for NU, but also for the country, because we will finally be able to have a reliable tall hitter in the Philippines. Aside from Santiago’s improved spiking, she was also able to master her blocking this year, using her height to her advantage. She’s a big threat in the net right now and it would be nice to see her improve more in the coming years.

2. Alyssa Valdez (Ateneo/PLDT/U23/SEAG, outside)

ADMU-vs.-SSCR-Alyssa-Valdez

What can I say? Alyssa Valdez did have an amazing year. She was able to win MVP awards in the UAAP and in a league filled with veteran and professional players. But even more amazing is that she was able to lead the Philippines in the U23 tournament and Southeast Asian Games. Aside from those, I think it was a bit of a highlight year for her since she did get a lot of endorsements and shows this year. I really hope her wish will come true to play abroad after her UAAP stint. It’s highly beneficial for her and the Philippines. The volleyball technology and new knowledge she will learn abroad will be beneficial to the coaches and players in the Philippines.

1. Marck Espejo (Ateneo/Cagayan/U23/SEAG, outside)

ST-awarding-Espejo-MVP

This 2015, all the times he represented Ateneo resulted to a championship. Last year was quite a revelation. Winning MVP in his rookie year was really a big accomplishment. He outdid himself this year though, dominating in all categories, even in digging and receiving. Someone even said that they should give him the Best Libero award as well. Even in Spikers’ Turf, a league filled with professional and men’s volleyball greats, he still won MVP. How amazing is that. But damn, it’s just all around greatness. What’s even funny is that he achieved all those, just 2 years in the UAAP and at 19 years old. Hall of Famer feat, huh? Let’s just hope that Ateneo and the Philippines will be able to maintain very good programs so that he keeps on improving.

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