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

So I’ve decided to do something different in this post. Instead of the usual gender separation, I will write my article based on significance this year. Take note that significance is different from achievements so this might not be a list you want to see if you’re a results/championship count/award count kind of guy/girl. But more or less, my list is kind of a mix of both.

2015 has been a very good for volleyball; both locally and in the international scene. In the international scene, we saw a lot of teams rise and a lot of underdog stories. We witnessed a lot of unpredictable things but we’ll talk about that in a bit. As for the local scene, I can maybe say that 2015 is the start of a golden era for Philippine Volleyball. We finally got to see our national teams play in major tournaments this year and we saw a lot of monster newbies and players who improved their game.

So just to have an overview, this blog segment will go like this:
Top 10 promising international players
Top 10 promising local players
Top 10 international players
Top 10 local players
Top 10 international teams
Top 10 local teams

Have fun reading!

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

MY TOP MEN’S VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS FOR 2014

1. Ran Abdilla (PLDT) – Amazing talent. Prolly the best men’s player in the country.

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2. Marck Espejo (Ateneo) – Rookie-MVP and still rockin it in 77. Great talent despite the young age.

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3. Howard Mojica (EAC/Cignal) – Amazing, Smart and Powerful

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4. Mark Alfafara (UST) – Prolific Scorer and never say die attitude

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5. Michael Sudaria (Adamson) – Small but terrible

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6. Ish Polvorosa (Ateneo) – Talented setter. Smart, fast and a great leader.

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7. JP Pareja (Ateneo) – Great leadership aside from his commendable talent in floor defense

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8. Peter Torres (NU) – Deadly running attack and has very good blocking

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9. Raymark Woo (La Salle) – Silent Assasin

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10. Vince Mangulabnan (NU) – Great setter

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11. Myco Antonio (Systema) – One of the most powerful lefties in the country

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12. Rence Melgar (Adamson) – Has great floor defense and a libero-leader too

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USA vs China Finals Preview (2014 FIVB World Championship)

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Alas, we’re down to the last two who survived a somewhat battle royale-like international volleyball competition. It has been a very good world cup and let’s hope the Finals tomorrow will be a blast.

But before we break down on USA and China, let’s have a run down on the performance of the other teams. Well, actually, It has been a mixed performance for almost all teams. There were surprising teams, emerging teams, dominating teams, bipolar teams and inconsistent teams but the games were really exciting this year. Dominican Republic was the team who shocked almost everyone after beating and challenging a lot of strong teams. Even the likes of Azerbaijan and Croatia had their share of upsets and surprising wins as well (although no one duplicated Chinese Taipei’s run in 2006 Haha). If there were teams who really did well, there were also teams who kind of disappointed a lot of fans (Sorry Japan, Russia, Serbia, Thailand and Turkey).  Thailand sent their Team B in this tournament, which was kind of disappointing and somewhat insulting to FIVB since they labeled this one as the organization’s most prestigious tournaments. I don’t know why Thailand prioritized Asian Games more, but I was disappointed cause they could’ve won games against strong teams. Japan, Serbia, Turkey and Russia were the inconsistent ones. It was disappointing cause they showed how they were able to match up with the strong teams…but also with the weaker teams. They could’ve made it to the next round if not for their inconsistencies. Russia was the most disappointing because they had Gamova, Kosheleva and Goncharova in one team and they were the defending champions but faulty substitutions and rotations by the coach cost them. Brazil and Italy dominated the whole tournament but failed to win the semis game. Well, these things happen so it wasn’t at all disappointing but it was frustrating since they really had hardcore line-ups and they were really one game away from making it to the Finals. And to be fair to China and USA, both teams did well in the Final Four. China and USA both had roller coaster seasons, although from the beginning, you knew they were somehow gonna win big games (but to be honest, I never really expected a USA vs China Finals Haha)

USA

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USA has always been known as an all around team. Although they commit a lot of errors, their floor and net defense have been the reasons why they won the last few games. The low-fast sets of Alisha Glass have also been big help to the team’s unpredictable offense. Of course, there’s also an added bonus if you have powerful hitters and servers such as Kim Hill, Jordan Larson, Kelly Murphy, Foluke Akinradewo and Christa Harmotto. Aside from these starters, you also have the likes of Nicole Fawcett, Rachel Adams and Kelsey Robinson. The offense of USA is actually as deep as their net and floor defense. Kayla Banwarth has really improved a lot as the team’s libero. She has been receiving and digging well. Just yesterday, she made Brazil’s attacks look like nothing. Christa Harmotto’s presence has also been a big factor for USA especially with her blocking (I mean, man, the girl once scored 12 blocks in one game). A USA championship will really be a big morale booster for the ones in the roster. There were doubts for the ones in the current line-up. Now is the right time to prove them wrong and to make a run for the red, white and blue nation.

Kimberly Hill of USA attacks

Player to watch out: Kim Hill is also emerging as one of USA’s main scorers. She improved her hitting by being more smart compared to the past years. If you would look at the past games, her scores are usually unchecked or undefended by the opponents.

If USA will continue their awesome defense and with unpredictable offense, they might just take this easily. But if they will commit a lot of errors, they will be in a lot of danger against a very young and eager China team.

CHINA

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China has been getting a lot of labels lately. Names like “team of the future”, “new Russia”, “emerging powerhouse” and I agree with all of them. Everyone knew this team had a lot of potential. When you look at their first six, you can easily say that five years from now, they could be dominating all tournaments. Height will be their advantage in the coming years especially since their first six is made up of 6’6, 6’7 and 6’5 players. The only problem with their game is their reception and digging. However, their blocking, serving and hitting are really to watch out for especially if you are into power and precision. The middle blockers Yuan Xinyue and Junjing Yang have lethal running attacks. The wingers Zhu Ting, Hui Ruoqi and Zeng Chunlei have also been explosive for China. Five years from now, this team’s gonna get even deadlier especially with the young roster they have. Imagine, the top scorers in their Final Four game against Italy are just 17 and 18 (Yuan Xinyue and Zhu Ting). China’s got a bright future but tomorrow will be the first step to their impending world dominance in world volleyball.

Italy Valentina Diouf and Italy Raphaela Folie block

Player to watch out: Zhu Ting has been leading the Chinese since Day 1. Her floor defense has improved a lot (in fact, she’s #1 in receiving) and her backrow attacks are now sharper.

In tomorrow’s Finals, they have nothing to lose and they have everything to gain. If they will have good floor defense tomorrow aside from their splendid blocking and hitting, they might just win it. Inexperience will either make or break them.

I just hope tomorrow’s Finals game will be a good one. I won’t mind a three set game as long as it’s exciting (as exciting as the USA vs Brazil semis) and I’d be happy if both teams will push it to the limit. Hoping there won’t be off games for all players so we can all witness a quality Finals match.

Just a reminder, the game is at 8:00 PM in Italy, 2:00 AM in Manila, 11:00 AM in LA, 3:00 PM in Sao Paolo, 2:00 PM in New York and 7:00 PM in London.

ENJOY!

Top 50 Graduating HS volleyball players (for college recruitment)

So I came up with another list to help UAAP and NCAA coaches out there to scout players they need for next year. Note, I did not include Fil-foreigners and imports in this list.

OUTSIDE HITTERS

Alterado, Alyssa (5’3) – Ateneo de Davao
Awards: Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Attacker – Davao (2011), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Attacker – Davao (2012)

Amancio, Farla (5’7) – Davao City National HS

Ardon, Kaye (5’7) – University of San Jose – Recoletos

Basas, Toni Rose (5’10) – Far Eastern University – Diliman

Bendong, Laiza Anne (5’5) – Iligan City National HS
Award: IVAA Best Attacker (2012)

Concon, Carol Joy (5’3) – Ateneo de Davao

De Leon, Bea (5’11) – Saint Pedro Poveda College

Dizon, Samm (5’6) – Ateneo de Davao

Enginco, Angela (5’7) – De La Salle Lipa

Escalambre, Janica (5’8) – University of the East

Estranero, Arielle (5’6) – University of St. La Salle
Awards: Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Receiver – Western Visayas (2013), NOPPSCEA Best Attacker (2012 & 2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Attacker – Western Visayas (2013)

Garcia, Julia (5’7) – St. Theresa’s College – Cebu

Gaston, Therese (5’10) – University of Santo Tomas

Guino-o, Heather (5’7) – Imus Institute
Awards: CCVL Best Attacker (2012), CCVL League MVP (2013), STCAA Best Spiker (2014)

Laure, Ennajie (5’9) – University of Santo Tomas
Awards: UAAP Best Server (2012), UAAP Best Receiver (2013), UAAP Best Spiker (2014), UAAP MVP (2014)

Madayag, Maddie (6’0) – Davao Christian High School

Macaseto, Frances (5’7) – Mandaue City National High School
Awards: Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Digger – Cebu (2013)

Maninang, Paula (5’7) – St. Theresa’s College – Cebu
Awards: Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Blocker – Cebu (2013), CVIRAA MVP (2014)

Navarro, Mycka (5’5) – University of St. La Salle

Pena, Patria Jela (5’6) – Ateneo de Davao
Awards: DVRAA Best Server (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Scorer – Davao (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Attacker – Davao (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League MVP – Davao (2013)

Racracquin, Ces (5’9) – National University

Rondina, Cherry Ann (5’5) – Compostela National HS
Awards: Palarong Pambansa Best Attacker (2013), Mayors Cup Best Attacker (2013), Mayos Cup Best Attacker (2014), Mayors Cup MVP (2014), CVIRAA Best Attacker (2014)

Rubi, Frea (5’4) – Silliman University

Torres, Melanie (5’6) – Angelicum College

MIDDLE BLOCKERS

Baliton, Roselle (6’2) – University of the East

Derder, Karen (5’10) – Southwestern University
Awards: Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Attacker – Cebu (2011), CESAFI Best Attacker (2013), CESAFI Best Blocker (2011), Cebu League Best Blocker (2012), CVIRAA Best Blocker (2012), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Blocker – Cebu (2012), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League MVP – Cebu (2011), VACO MVP (2012), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Scorer – Cebu (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Blocker – National (2014)

Esperanza, Christina (6’2) – Ripit National HS

Francisco, Christine (5’8) – University of Santo Tomas

Magundayao, Angel (6’0) – De La Salle Lipa

Necessito, Anne Perciville (5’9) – Calatagan National HS, Palarong Pambansa Best Server (2013)

Pablo, Mia (5’11) – Saint Pedro Poveda College

Paran, Audrey Kathryn (5’9) – De La Salle Lipa
Awards: NCAA South Best Attacker (2012), NCAA South Best Attacker (2013), Toby’s Best Blocker (2011), STCAA Best Blocker (2012), ZCAA Best Blocker (2013), Toby’s MVP (2011), Toby’s MVP (2012), V-League Girls Best attacker, Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Scorer – CALABARZON (2013) Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Attacker – CALABARZON (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League MVP – CALABARZON (2013)

Sandoval, Carla (5’7) – Angelicum College

Sandoval, Caryl (5’8) – Angelicum College

Tabiga, Robelyn (5’10) – Ripit National HS

OPPOSITES

Acosta, Jubilee (5’7) – Ateneo de Davao
Award: DAVA Best Blocker (2013)

Doromal, Roma Joy (5’8) – Central Philippines University
Awards: Shakey’s Best Attacker – Western Visayas (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V- League MVP – Western Visayas (2013)

Luna, Danielle (5’6) – De La Salle Zobel

Pacres, Mary Dominique (5’9) – Mandaue City National HS
Awards: Cebu League Best Spiker (2012), Mayor’s Cup MVP (2013)

Rivera, Rica Jane (5’7) – University of San Jose – Recoletos
Awards: MILO Best Attacker (2012), Cebu Olympics Best Attacker (2013), MILO Best Attacker (2013), MILO MVP (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Attacker – Cebu (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League MVP – Cebu (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Server – National (2014)

Villavicencio, Maiza (5’6) – Silliman University

LIBEROS

Bautista, Antonette (5’3) – University of Santo Tomas

Bermudez, Kate (5’3) – Ateneo de Davao
Awards: Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Digger – Davao (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Libero – Davao (2013)

Dayanghirang, Pie (5’3) – University of Santo Tomas

Enggo, Cary Joy (5’1) – Andres Soriano College

SETTERS

Diolan, Rica (5’6) – National University
Awards: Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Setter – Davao (2013), DAVRAA Best Setter (2013), DAVA MVP (2012)

Frando, Nicole (5’6) – Ateneo de Davao
Awards: Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Setter – Davao (2012), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Setter – Davao (2013)

Gonzales, Christa (5’3) – Southwestern University
Awards: Cebu League Best Setter (2011), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Setter – Cebu (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League MVP – Cebu (2013)

Lai, Jewel (5’5) – Hope Christian HS
Awards: Palarong Pambansa Best Setter (2013), Shakey’s Girls’ V-League Best Setter – National (2014)

Narciso, Andie (5’4) – De La Salle Zobel
Awards: UAAP Best Setter (2013), UAAP MVP (2013)

Opina, Aya (5’4) – University of the East

Why Ateneo can still be a strong team this UAAP Season 76 (Women’s Volleyball)

Just a disclaimer, before you claim anything as hype, note that these are just observations. Haha. So yeah, I’m not really like other fans or should I say fantards who are pro-negativity and will pull down others. As an analyst or even just a fan of the sport, I feel the need to point out strengths rather than weaknesses and point out skills which they can still improve on.

So yeah, I’ve been getting a lot of demands from other people even non-Ateneo fans to post something about the Ateneo Lady Eagles and what they have become after the graduation of the Fab Five and the exit of Coach Roger Gorayeb.

My observations below are based on the past weeks only. I have not seen them yet with Coach Anusorn Bundit but I will try to drop by some time.

Forgive me for having a conyo/Taglish blog post! Hahaha. And also if there are wrong grammars and shiz, don’t hesitate to take notice. I kinda rushed this one lang din eh.

So anyway, here it is:

OBSERVATIONS: ATENEO LADY EAGLES

I saw their two tune-up games against semi-pro teams who are playing in the V-League and I must say, for a rebuilding team, they’re doing pretty well. The first one I watched was against PNP. They won it in 5 sets with Alyssa Valdez not playing in some sets. While last Friday, they won against Meralco with Alyssa Valdez only playing in the 1st set. The 5th set of that game against Meralco was a total team effort with significant contributions from Gequillana, Tajima, Gopico and Ahomiro.

OPEN SPIKERS/OUTSIDE HITTERS:

– Alyssa Valdez is still Alyssa Valdez but I have to say that her floor defense improved a lot
– Kim Gequillana was the one who really brought the house down. Sobrang talino maglaro and at the same time has good amount of power. She knows where to spike the ball and she has a good strategy na patamain yung spikes against the blockers. She has also been successful in doing the front-line kills ala Alyssa Valdez. She’s like a mixture of Cainglet and Gervacio. She can be one of Ateneo’s main scorers this coming UAAP. Not only can she score, she has very good blocking and floor defense. And man, she’s clutch.
– Michelle Morente has good court vision. She plays like a younger Maruja Banaticla (UST) and she can be a star too. She has good floor defense and blocking but she has to connect more with the setters and move better in the court. If she does, she’s gonna be a good player in the coming years.
– Despite not training that much because of academic demands, Jhoana Maraguinot still has the power and the serving. I wanna see her be in condition again though.
– Ella De Jesus had a hard time scoring in their games. I think height is still an issue for her despite the high vertical leaping.

OPPOSITE/UTILITY:

– Amy Ahomiro has improved so much. I think she’s the most improved player in the Ateneo team. I guess her stints in the V-League last conference helped her boost her confidence. If you remember, Amy Ahomiro even won the Best Player of the Game in Finals Game 1. Amy has been showing good floor defense and blocking. She just needs to have more connection with the setters and have more confidence because I believe she’s gonna be one of the team’s go to guys (girls) this season.
– Mona Bagatsing has to jump higher because she has the power na naman.

MIDDLE BLOCKERS:

– Ana Gopico has the potential to be a monster middle in the court. You can see that the girl has the power and the form. She can do running hits ala Maika Ortiz and quicks like Pau Soriano. Consistency is an issue though as she has this tendency to experiment with her attacks resulting to errors. If she gets consistent, she will be a deadly weapon for Ateneo. Aside from attacking, I have to commend her blocking. In the two games I watched she scored at least 5 blocks in each game. I enjoyed seeing her block the likes of Coco Wang and Em Penetrante. She has good timing and her blocks are like that of Gumabao/Laborte where she’d really close the door on the spikers.
– Mae Tajima still has to fix her attacking but her blocking has greatly improved. She jumps a bit higher now and well, jumps a lot more unlike in the past. Since she’s 6’2, she’s gonna be a good asset come UAAP especially if Ateneo’s faced with a team who has good middles. In their game against Meralco, she was able to check their Chinese Import Coco Wang and top player Maureen Penetrante. According to a fan page, she reported scored 7 blocks in that game. I didn’t count but yeah, she had a field day in blocking in that game.
– Anyway, if Tajima won’t work there’s always Marge Tejada who has sufficient middle blocker skills too. Hope she improves her attacking though. Serving and blocking have been helping the team a lot.
– I want Aerieal Patnongon to be back. The V-League Season 8 version. She had very good blocking and serving that time. Her attacking improve though based on what I saw. Let’s just hope she will be back. She can be an asset to the Philippine team if she will be a monster in the court.

SETTERS:

– Gizelle Tan has improved her setting a lot and has been connecting well with the spikers. Her serving and floor defense has improved too.
– But I can’t wait for Julia Morado to fully recover from her ACL injury. Right now, she’s 90% pa lang. She has been training already but hasn’t been doing the jump setting and hasn’t been participating in the scrimmages. She’ll be 100% by 3rd week of September. They need to have her in the team. She has the height and has very good setting. She is probably Ateneo’s best setter in the team now.

LIBEROS:

– Denden Lazaro still has very good digging but she’ll be a very good libero if she will improve her consistency in receiving.
– I did not see much of Bea Tan as she is focused more on Beach Volleyball the past weeks

TEAM SKILLS:

– Playing as a team. Contrary to what others are thinking, the team is not an Alyssa Valdez team. I have to credit this to their setters who are evenly distributing and giving the chance for the other spikers to shine. I guess that game against Meralco sort of impressed me. Alyssa Valdez did not play in the 2nd to 5th set, but they were able to pull off a victory. At least the jelling is getting there and the teamwork is finally coming into place.
– Blocking is Ateneo’s main weapon this season. I guess this is also because they have a much taller team this year.
– They commit a lot of errors. Well it’s a bit understandable since they’re a new or a rookie team. But if they commit like so many, it will be costly come UAAP.
– Consistency in receiving. I have to agree with the observations of the other fans that Ateneo’s consistency in receiving has got to improve. Cainglet and Gervacio were very good receivers and were very consistent. Super big loss for Ateneo but others have to step up especially Denden Lazaro.
– Valdez has improved also in floor defense (maybe because of her beach volley training too). Ahomiro and Gequillana have been showing good floor defending skills too but as a team, they have to be consistent. I think it also has to do with communication. Some of them don’t talk that much on the court. But it’s still early. Let’s see in the coming tune-up games or other off-season tournaments.
– If they fix their receiving, they still have a chance to make it up there. I think they’re still in the Top 3-4 teams this coming UAAP. Consistency, experience and maturity will most likely be their issue this coming season. But let’s see.

Warning/Note:
I think the best thing to do right now for Ateneo fans is to not expect muna. Haha. Although Ateneo’s talented (more talented than the past years), La Salle, NU and Adamson are experienced and are really gunning for the crown this year since they have a lot of graduating players lalo na Adamson, they have 7 graduating seniors. BUT, I’m not saying Ateneo can’t beat them. With good foundation and good skills and with good coaching by Coach Parley and Thai Coach Anusorn they might. Best way muna now is to not expect. Most of you guys are new here but this is what Ateneo fans including were like nung first year ng Fab Five after a great exit by Charo, Patti and Karla. They weren’t expecting anything to happen. Laro lang. Key word is PATIENCE. Back then, naunderstand naman ng lahat na young team Ateneo so no expectations talaga. This year, same lang din dapat. Goal is to make the Final Four. Beyond that would be a blessing. Haha. True may talent Ateneo this year, might even be the best team built in the past years but like what I’ve been saying jelling, maturity and experience will be the big issue here. Sabi nga ng iba, a rookie will always be a rookie. Ateneo has a total of two-three rookies in the starting six. And they have three juniors as the other half of the first six. Goes to show how young the Ateneo team’s gonna be this coming year.

My TV series Calendar for 2013-2014

My TV series Calendar for 2013-2014

So every year I make something like this. Haha. So yeah, these are the TV shows I watch. If you have good suggestions, just tell me! I’m a diehard fan of TV series so as much as possible, I watch pilots of new TV series. If I like it, I’ll stick to it and then if I don’t, I’ll remove it from the list. Haha.

The TV shows this year are kind of promising, especially ABC’s Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, ABC’s Agents of Shield and The CW’s The Originals. Let’s see if these are for real! 🙂