MANILA, Philippines -- Caught off guard by the disbandment of her former squad, veteran spiker Jhoana Maraguinot is grateful to have found a new home ahead of the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) season.
Maraguinot was among the players who became free agents after the Perlas Spikers decided to sit out the upcoming volleyball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking on "The Game" on Tuesday night, Maraguinot said it had been difficult for her after Perlas announced its leave of absence. She had joined the squad just last March 2021, in the process officially turning professional and foregoing her final season of eligibility with Ateneo de Manila University.
"It was hard for us. I mean, everyone from Perlas, siyempre it was so sudden na parang, na-caught off guard din kami na biglang nawala 'yung Perlas," she admitted.
"I'm glad that BaliPure accepted me and 'yung ibang players din. Kasi nga, marami ring teams na nawala, 'di ba. So parang, I'm just really thankful for BaliPure for accepting us newcomers," she added.
Aside from Maraguinot, BaliPure is also bringing in another former Ateneo Lady Eagle Jamie Lavitoria. Former BaliPure players Alyssa Eroa and Janine Marciano also returned to the team.
Completing their new signings are Julia Ipac, Rafril Aguilar, Marian Buitre and Patty Orendain.
For Maraguinot, it will be a new experience as this marks the first time she is playing with most of her new teammates.
But even though they have yet to take the court together, Maraguinot is already excited for the new challenge and is optimistic that the Purest Water Defenders can keep in step with the PVL's powerhouses.
In 2021, BaliPure missed the Final 4 after compiling a 3-6 win-loss record in the Open Conference.
"Actually, noong sinabi sa akin kung sino 'yung magiging teammates ko, 'yung bagong names, nagulat din ako. Parang, wow, kasi nga first time ko rin silang makakasama, so I think malaki 'yung potential namin this season," said Maraguinot.
"Ako, nae-excite ako just looking at the names, and excited ako kung paano kami makakapag-jell inside the court," she added.
BaliPure retained Gyra Barroga, Bern Flora, Carly Hernandez, Gen Casugod, and Sati Espiritu from last season's line-up, while Alina Bicar will make her return to the team after a brief stint with PetroGazz in the PNVF Champions League.
The PVL plans to start its Open Conference in February.