Best of 2014: My picks for Best International Volleyball Players and Moments

MY TOP MEN’S VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS FOR 2014 

1. Taylor Sander (USA/BYU) – Rookie-MVP in an international scene. Amazing leap and excellent volleyball IQ.

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2. Marius Wlazly (Poland) – Led the country for a world championship. Beat that.

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3. Ivan Zaytsev (Italy) – Italy’s own workhorse. Can score anywhere.

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4. Wallace De Souza (Brazil) – Still good despite the injury (also biased cause he’s my favorite)

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5. Ricardo Lucarelli (Brazil) – Most improved player

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6. Earvin Ngapeth (France) – Breakout year, definitely

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7. Seyed Mousavi (Iran) – 48 blocks in a world tournament. Beat that.

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8. Matthew Anderson (USA) – Still an amazing player no matter what and the heart and soul of USA

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9. Jenia Grebennikov (France) – Amazing libero! Brought the house down in the World championship!

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10. Mir Saeid Marouflakrani (Iran) – Amazing setter! Probably the best in the world right now.

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A Farewell Letter to the Philippine Volleyball Community

This weekend meant the end of my stay in the Philippines. Medyo matagal na itong planned actually. I think 2012 pa lang, I’ve been telling my friends of my plans to migrate abroad. Natuloy na rin sa wakas. It has always been my dream to work abroad but I also have family duties here in the Philippines kaya di ko rin maiwanan lahat.

Of course, I’d like to say thanks to everyone who helped me in Philippine Volleyball.

First, I’d like to say thanks to Mr. Ricky Palou, Mr. Sherwin Malonzo and Mr. Arthur Lim. You guys have taught me a lot. Thanks for giving me a lot of opportunities too. You guys know what I mean. Thank you talaga. Please do continue in promoting volleyball. It’s a good sport with an overwhelming and warm community. You guys are making this sport so big. Again, thank you.

Sa aking short writing career, sobrang nagtathank you ako kay Sir Josiah Albelda for giving me opportunities to write both in Matchpoint and Rappler. Super thanks. Dami ko natutunan and malaki utang na loob ko sa iyo. Bond na lang ulit tayo when I get back from the States. Haha.

I’d like to also thank Mr. Tats Suzara, Ms. Anna Tomas, Mr. Ginio Panganiban, Ms. Kyle Principe and everyone who have been friends and gave me the opportunity to participate in Philippine volleyball activities like the forming of the Bomberinas, the Superliga and everything. Sobrang salamat po talaga sa inyo. Sana po wag kayong magsawang sumuporta sa Philippine volleyball.

I’ve developed a lot of friends in this sport. There were some clashes too but you guys were all memorable. Thanks for the bonding, the entertaining dinners, the side by side cheering and at times, jeering and the memories you have shared with me. Dahil sa dami niyo, I won’t mention you guys ng isa-isa. Alam niyo na kung sino kayo. Both past and present. Thanks for always being there sa side ko.

Thanks din sa mga kahit hindi ko pa namemeet kasi asa province sila, asa ibang bansa sila or nahihiya sila magpakilala, na you guys trusted me and natiis niyo yung pagiging passionate ko and pagiging super outspoken ko. Salamat sa lahat.

For my dear Ateneo Lady Eagles and Blue Spikers, championships come to those who wait. You might not have won the UAAP yet, but you will someday. I will always support and believe in you guys. I always include you guys in your prayers. For both the past and present Lady Eagles and Blue Spikers, thank you so much for the memorable chats, beautiful conversations and the inspiring messages you have shared with me. I won’t mention you guys na, alam niyo na kung sino kayo. Thank you also for being so kind to me despite minsan sa pangungulit and sa pagiging overly passionate. You guys will always have a place in my heart. Sobra. I’ve never been a picture person but rest assured those memories are even better than pictures. Kunin niyo na yan this year. Baka umuwi ako. Haha. Let’s see.

I may have a favorite team in both divisions but I always had my own share of favorite players from other teams too. These include Carmela Tunay, Cha Cruz, Jessey de Leon, Maica Morada, Rose Vargas, Illa Santos, Jovy Gonzaga, Ara Galang, UP girls (almost everyone of them) and so much more pa. Of course, the girls I really loved the most, the Santiago sisters. Sobrang bait niyo sa akin and I can’t thank you enough. Sa lahat po sa inyo, thank you for being inspirations to my life. I will always treasure you guys. Hope you can continue setting examples to the rest of Philippine volleyball. Magsilbi sana kayong halimbawa hindi lang sa paglalaro kung hindi sa inyong mga pagkatao na rin.

Some people call me a leader. But no I am not. I’ve always been a follower. Kaya sa mga iba dyan na nagaask kung may papalit ba sa akin as leader ng ibang Facebook groups ganyan. Thanks kung leader nga ang tingin niyo sa akin. But yes, marami diyan who can lead you guys and can set a better example. UAAP Season na so let’s see kung sino mag iinitiate ng mga leadership roles diyan. Hindi ako indespensable. May pagkukulang din ako. Let the new ones take over and I’m sure makakahanap din kayo. Good Luck guys.

Sa mga fans of different teams and players, continue supporting your favorite players and teams. Lumaki ang volleyball with your support. Kayo ang reason why the sport became so big like this. Ipagpatuloy niyo lang yan. But know your limits and boundaries too. Just spread the love and just be passionate about what you are doing. Kung ayaw man ng parents, laging ikatwiran na, at least hindi ka nagsisigarilyo or nagdudrugs. Joke lang po. But seriously, continue making volleyball big. The sport needs you!

It’s sad that I won’t be able to see Philippine volleyball progress. Sayang kasi the sport is growing pa naman. But when I get back, I hope most of the games will be in MOA Arena, Araneta or any other future big stadiums. Of course, even without me in the country, I’d be supporting Philippine Volleyball pa rin of course.

Thank you Philippine Volleyball community

See you again soon!

God Bless you guys!

Pagpray ko kayo lahat! 🙂

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🙂

Full and Recorded video of another classic match: Fenerbahce vs Eczacibasi

So here it is! The much-anticipated Fenerbahce vs Eczacibasi game was kind of disappointing because it was only a 3 setter game.  But then, there were a lot of rallies and spectacular plays by both squads so I’m still thankful that they gave us a show. Eczacibasi just played way better than Fenerbahce. They really have good floor defense, which is why even if they only have Neslihan Darnel, Liubov Sokolova and Maja Poljak as scorers, they can survive with their impeccable and Japan-like floor defense. Fenerbahce however has yet to blend in with one another. They have a lot of misreceptions which is why the new setter always likes giving it to the outside hitters. Although it’s not a bad idea since you have Paula Pequeno and Kim Yeon Koung as outside hitters, it’s very predictable. There were a lot of times that both players were blocked and that they wouldn’t score at one point. Hopefully, Fenerbahce will jell in more as a team and I hope their setter will improve, because they have a shitload of potential to be a very strong team. They have already lost TWO games in FIVE matches. That’s how messed up they are right now. Meanwhile, I have to commend Maja Poljak and Berenika Okuniewska who have also been improving in the middle blocker position in the past few games.

Eczacibasi def. Fenerbahce – 25-21, 25-21, 25-23

Damn. Can’t wait for the Eczacibasi vs Vakifbank game. Battle of unbeaten teams. Gonna be exciting for sure! ENJOY!

Classic 5-set game last Nov 7: Fenerbahce vs Vakifbank (Youtube link)

Sorry if I’m just gonna post the link since the owner disable embedding it here. Haha. But yeah.

This one’s a classic game although we have yet to see a better game since Mari Steinbrecher is not playing for Fenerbahce while Turkey’s other top scorer Polen Usluhpehlivan is not playing for Vakifbank. So yeah. Imagine if both are playing, we could’ve seen a much better quality of volleyball. As said, I think the quality of this game is even far better than a USA vs Brazil game. Not to discount the capabilities of USA vs Brazil, but damn, these two Turkish teams are really good!

Enjoy!

Vakifbank def. Fenerbahce 25-27, 25-19, 25-27, 25-18, 15-11.

Vakifbank Top Scorers: Malgorzata Glinka 21, Saori Kimura 20, Christiane Furst 13, Sonsirma Gozde 10, Bahar Toksoy 9

Fenerbahce Top Scorers: Kim Yeon-Koung 28, Seda Tokatlioglu 17, Paula Pequeno 9, Berenika Okuniewska 9, Ipek Soroglu 7.

Fenerbahce vs Vakifbank: A dream Match for Volleyball fans

Many Turkish league fans like have been anticipating the Fenerbahce vs Vakifbank match-up. Probably because as of now, with Kim Yeon Koung’s approved permit to play in the Turkish league, both teams have the best line-ups (in terms of clubs) in the whole world.

Although not as colorful as last year’s line-up which involved Liubov Sokolova, Fabiana Claudino and Logan Tom, this year’s Fenerbahce team is still competitive. They still have Asia’s best in Kim Yeon Koung from Korea who was also with the other three foreign imports last year. They have also acquired two Brazilian legends in Paula Pequeno and Mari Steinbrecher who can play both the outside and opposite positions. The team also got one of the world’s best middle blockers, Berenika Okuniewska from Poland. Filling the other middle spot is Eda Erdem, one of Turkey’s middle blockers. Individually, they are still very good. They have five able scorers and their line up is still one of the best in the world. How far will they go is the big question this time.

Vakifbank features Turkey’s best players like Naz Aydemir (setter), Neriman Oszoy (outside hitter), Gozde Sonsirma (outside hitter) and my favorites;  Bahar Toksoy (middle) and one of their Turkey’s best hitters Polen Usluhpehlivan (outside/opposite). The team has also acquired great imports like Japan’s current best player Saori Kimura, one of the world’s best blocker Christiane Furst from Germany, Malgorzata Glinka from Poland and Europe’s most prolific scorer Jovana Brakocevic from Serbia. Individually, they are really strong. But as a team, they have yet to be tested especially since this is the first time they will all be together in one team. No doubt, this is a dream team for Vakifbank. If they gel even more, they will be deadly and might become the world’s best club, at least for this year.