Doorway to VNL awaits Alas Pilipinas after third-place feat

Jia De Guzman and Angel Canino shine for Alas Pilipinas during the AVC Challenge Cup 2024, winning two individual awards

Jia De Guzman and Angel Canino shine for Alas Pilipinas during the AVC Challenge Cup 2024, winning two individual awards.–MARLO CUETO/

After Sisi Rondina hammered a crosscourt that found the edge of the floor at match point, a jam-packed crowd rocked the Rizal Memorial Coliseum to its foundations, matching the roars of Alas Pilipinas standouts.

Every ecstatic soul who witnessed that bronze-medal output of the women’s national volleyball squad at the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenge Cup over Australia on Wednesday would certainly love to see more.

“Playing with everyone on this team is really special,’’ said Angel Canino after firing a game-high 14 points in another superb effort for a stellar team mashed together on the fly.

And she’s willing to do it again.

“Playing for the country is [a] different [experience] and if I’ll be given another chance to represent the country, why not?” she said.

That next opportunity won’t be long.

Another tour of duty is in store for the national women’s team with the looming 2024 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Challenger Cup on July 4 toJuly 7 at Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

And if Alas Pilipinas becomes the lucky champion among the eight participating nations that includes Argentina and Puerto Rico, the Philippines will advance to the prestigious FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) for the first time.

Jia De Guzman orchestrated the offense, placing Alas Pilipinas hitters Eya Laure, Canino and Rondina along with middle blocker Thea Gagate in a position to thrive in Wednesday’s 25-23, 25-15, 25-7 victory over Australia that gave the Philippines the bronze medal (See main story on this page).

“You can count on one hand the times that we trained for this. We only practiced [as a complete team] thrice prior to the tournament,’’ said De Guzman.

“The fact that we were able to show what this team is capable of, we will just try to keep on improving and move up,’’ said De Guzman, who saw action for Denso Airybees in the Japan V. League as an Asian import before grabbing the chance to suit up for the national team.

The team got an added boost from Sen. Bong Go, who announced that the players will get P200,000 each for their efforts.

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“No one expected that we would have this outcome,” said Rondina, who had 13 points against Australia. “We just stood our ground. We told ourselves that we’re here anyway, we might as well stand our ground.”