All set for AVC tourney in Manila

The country’s hosting of the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Asian Women’s Club Championship goes full blast as it stages the drawing of lots this Wednesday at the Foton showroom in Quezon City.

No less than AVC technical delegate Jaksuwan Tocharoen and AVC marketing and development committee chairman Ramon “Tats” Suzara will supervise the ceremony that will determine the composition of the pool play in the preliminary round.

It will be the second time for the Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) to host an Asian tournament since formally becoming the country’s duly recognized national association for volleyball last year.

Aside from successfully staging the Asian U23 Women’s Championship, the Philippines also competed in various international tournaments such as the AVC Asian Seniors Women’s Championship in China, the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, the AVC Asian U23 Men’s Championship in Myanmar, the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Vietnam and the AVC Asian Men’s Club Championship in Taipei.

It also extended its commitment to some invitational tourneys like the VTV Cup in Vietnam and the Thai-Denmark Super League in Thailand recently.

“We thank the LVPI, through its president Mr. Joey Romasanta, for throwing its full commitment to our mission of bringing the Philippines back to the international volleyball map,” said Suzara, who is also the president of the Philippine Superliga (PSL).

“We may not win the title right away, but we’re glad that we’re on the right track as far as getting back to the international arena is concerned. I believe that hosting this kind of tournament will fast track our return to international prominence.”

Romasanta said the LVPI board entrusted the organization of the country’s hosting to the PSL for being the only club league in the country. After all, the PSL is one of the most active and major stakeholders of the LVPI.

“Since the PSL is the only club league in the country and a major stakeholder of the LVPI, it is only fitting that we entrust them the hosting of the biggest club tournament in Asia,” Romasanta said. “We’re optimistic that the PSL can pull it off. The entire LVPI board is completely behind them in this endeavor.”

The first time the Philippines joined this prestigious club tourney was in 2006 when it carried the colors of Accel. It also competed in 2011 and 2014 with Shakey’s and PLDT as official backers, respectively.

Last year, it was Petron which donned the national colors after bagging the 2014 PSL Grand Prix title.

Brazilians Erica Adachi and Rupia Inck as well as local stars Dindin Manabat, Rachel Anne Daquis, Frances Molina, Maica Morada and Aby Marano powered the Blaze Spikers, who finished eighth in the tough field dominated by world-class teams like Bangkok Glass of Thailand and Hisamitsu Spring of Japan.

Foton, the reigning PSL Grand Prix champion, will be the country’s representative this year and will be bracketed in Group A together with last year’s seventh-placer Vietnam for being the host.

The Toplander have yet to formally reveal their final lineup, but hinted that American stars Lindsay Stalzer, Ariel Usher and Kristy Jaekel are strongly being considered to serve as their reinforcements aside from tapping PSL player from other team to assemble a powerful, star-studded lineup.

“The PSL is solidly behind Foton in its goal of forming the best team possible,” Suzara said. “They don’t want to just simply compete, but they want to make a serious run for the crown and make our country proud.”

Aside from Vietnam, Thailand and Japan, other countries that will be seeing action are powerhouse clubs from China, Chinese Taipei, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Iran, Turkmekistan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia.