The word ‘competitive’ best describes the tryout held by PSL at the FilOil Flying V Centre to fill the remaining 7 slots of the team who will be slugging it out against the best club teams in the world in the forthcoming Women’s Club World Championships to be held in Manila.
Friday’s invite-only event had 27 of the brightest volleyball stars in the country fighting for the coveted spots via scrimmages as the club league’s finest played alongside and against each other for 2 straight hours.
Perhaps one of the toughest spots to fill for the coaches present is the opposite position as three of the strongest spikers in Jovelyn Gonzaga, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Kim Dy all showed up and gave each other a run for their money via their respective performances.
Fully aware of the tough competition ahead, Gonzaga shared how she focused on her own game instead of trying to outdo her peers.
“Nilaro ko lang kung ano ang laro ko kasi sila ganun din ang gagawin nila eh,” she told FOX Sports. “I know ang level na nilalaro nila sobrang taas din eh. Kaya ako, nag focus na lang ako sa sarili ko at pinakita ko na lang kung anuman ang talent na binigay sa akin.”
On what her advantage over Maizo-Pontillas and Dy is, she adds: “Every game po talaga puso. Kaya nga pag nasasaktan ako talagang hurt na hurt. Laging laban Pilipinas lang.”
Over the years, Gonzaga has proven her self worthy of a national team post, even going as far as being named the team captain of the PH delegates to last year’s SEA Games held in Singapore.
Though she did not get to play in top collegiate tourneys like the UAAP and the NCAA, the lefty spiker showed what true grit means in the instances she led Philippine Army in its multiple title runs both in the PSL and the V-League.
“Hopeful ako, hindi nawawala ‘yun. But I’m open sa kahit na ano ang mangyari,” she shared, talking about possibly notching a spot in the final lineup. “And kung anuman mangyari, mapili o hindi, I’m here to support kasi Philippines ito eh. Lagi ko nga sinasabi na it’s one for Philippine volleyball.”
At this point, Gonzaga says, chosen or not, it is already an honor to be among the few who got invited to give the tryout a shot that has been attended by the likes of veterans Rubie de Leon, Rachel Daquis and young guns like Jaja Santiago, Kim Fajardo and Dawn Macadili.
“Nung una medyo pressured ako pero later on natuwa na din ako,” said the Ilongga. “Nakakatuwa kasi ‘yung idea pa lang na nabigyan ka ng invitation is a very big honor na. Napaka-overwhelming na na nakasama mo ‘yung best of the best.”
Though she has been a part of international tournaments in the past, the CWC will be Gonzaga’s first time to give the world stage a go if and when she gets picked by the organizers.
And like many of her fellow volleyball players, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity could be the fruition of a long-time dream she has worked hard to achieve.
“Pangarap ko ‘yun (makalaro) sa world (stage). Bata pa ako it’s been my dream na. Kung para sa akin, para sa akin. Kung nakatadhana sa akin, akin talaga,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio