V-LEAGUE DIARIES: VOLLEYBALL’S 5 OPEN SPIKERS THAT BROUGHT BACK PHILIPPINE VOLLEYBALL
Philippine volleyball has made its name in the past decade, emerging from the underground scene to the mainstream stage in the country. Historically, our volleyball program has always been a contender in Southeast Asia until its controversial demise that made us miss a lot of international exposure. And while our neighbors like Thailand were able to make a name for themselves on the international stage facing powerhouses like China and Serbia, Philippine volleyball had to start from scratch. As we celebrate a milestone in the country’s sports program with the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) being a unified and the first-ever women’s pro volleyball league, lets a take a look at the names of five open spikers that paved the way for this breakthrough.
Writer’s Note: With the first-ever professional season of PVL fast approaching, let’s dive into stories that not only made up the dream volleyball league (hopefully) but also an anecdote of why we love the sport. Here, we go through to the top, explosive open spikers we are certainly proud of.
Of course, fan or not, Alyssa Valdez would always ring a bell. Many have seen her climbed to success in volleyball from being the Queen Eagle and UAAP volleyball’s “Phenom”. She is a three-time MVP of UAAP, a four-time best scorer and best server of the most celebrated collegiate league. She also dominated Shakey’s Girls Volleyball League, both NCR and National by bagging the “Best Attacker” Award.
She became one of the first-ever Filipina volleyball players to be an import. She definitely made her name in the international scene after being a mainstay in the country’s National Team. There was a time when Valdez singlehandedly carried the RP team in multiple tournaments making her one of the most highly scouted players in the country.
But taking her achievements aside, Valdez has greatly earned her name as it is not rare to see her solid spike that tantamounts to an almost efficient 100 percent. And once the Phenom has taken over the court, the audience will surely become wild while shouting the legendary name at the top of their lungs that could bring a shiver to every player inside a game.
If Valdez is on the list, then Ara Galang wouldn’t miss the cut. After all, the solid rivalry of Ateneo and De la Salle made its peak with the Galang-Valdez showdown. “The Great” Galang that bagged the UAAP Season 74 “Rookie of the Year” Award and Season 75 MVP Award has been the darling of the crowd.
You’d not believe your eyes once you see her ‘no look down the line’ and hitting the opposite side topped off with her deadly cut shots and off the block moves, Galang became the prototype for a modern open spiker. Although she sustained many injuries during her collegiate career, Galang proved that she is a champion herself by just being an all-around player from spiking, blocking to service as well as her great reception to receiving—a great all-around player indeed.
Angeli Tabaquero is one of the greatest players UAAP has seen, she definitely set the bar high. Even before the golden era of Valdez, Galang, and others where Philippine Women’s Volleyball was just beginning to make its way, Tabaquero’s supremacy was one of the first to manifest. Wearing jersey no. 2, she joined UST back in 2008-UAAP Season 71.
Dubbed as the “Pamewang Queen” and former team captain of UST Golden Tigresses, she ruled zone 1 of the court joining her power attacks, strong defense, and offense there’s no telling where Valdez learned from as they both attended the same high school volleyball program. She wouldn’t be named as the former team captain of the National team for nothing.
Take it from Jema Galanza! The star player of Adamson University has won the MVP Award during the PVL 2019 Open Conference with a 36.34 success rate in spiking. And with that rate, she helped lead Creamline to an unbeaten season after bolstering a total of 192 attack kills, 15 blocks, and 19 aces during the elimination round.
With such stats, the former Lady Falcon just proved why she was famed as the ‘Gem’ of Philippine Volleyball. In fact, this volleybelle became part of the pool of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games but she let it go as she opted to help Creamline for its title retention in which she did not fail. After all, she bagged the “Best Attacker” during 16th National Intercollegiate Volleyball, and “2nd Best Outside Spiker” in 2018 PVL. And wherever team she is, rest assured that her club team is in for a victory.
Standing 5-foot-10, Myla Pablo is definitely one of the finest volleyball players as she’s an epitome of the never say die attitude. She sustained a metatarsal sprain on her right foot back in 2019 while playing for Motolite against BanKo yet vowed to be back in the next PVL Open Conference.
Nonetheless, she is fearless and a hard player to reckon with as she bagged the MVP Award from the 2015 Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference Season 12 as well as the year after that and 2nd Best Open Spiker while playing for Pocari Sweat. And other than that, she’s a two-time MVP of PVL Open Conference (2017) and Reinforced Conference (2018).
With the steady rise of the volleyball program, we can only hope to see more players join the herd and maybe we can finally get back on the podium—who knows maybe this will be the start of history.