MANILA, Philippines -- The coaches of Ateneo de Manila University and the University of Santo Tomas assured that they will fully support their players, should they be called up to the Philippine national women's volleyball team.
This as the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) has decided to tap collegiate players for the 2022 Asian Women's Volleyball Cup that will take place in Manila in August.
Collegiate players will have more opportunities to train and prepare for the competition as the UAAP season has already concluded. Meanwhile, the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) will open its Invitational Conference on July 9.
"Tapos na 'yung UAAP, so I think 'yung players from the collegiate will have more time to train with the national team," said Tony Boy Liao, the chairman of the PNVF's national teams commission.
"The coaching staff has already named 22 players to be invited from the different schools. We are just waiting for the reply of the universities of those who were invited, if they will be released," he added.
Expected to receive call-ups are the key players of defending UAAP champions National University, as well as Ateneo's Faith Nisperos and La Salle's Thea Gagate, both of whom also won major awards in Season 84. UST's Eya Laure, the league's leading scorer, is also tipped to be called upon by the federation.
According to Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro and UST coach Kungfu Reyes, there is no issue for them if the PNVF tapped their players. However, it will still be up to the players to decide if they will answer the call.
"Ever since naman, UST is one of the university na pinagkukunan talaga ng mga national team, and that's our pride. That's Thomasian pride," said Reyes. "Hindi lang actually sa volleyball. Sa combative andiyan din si UST, sa artistic andiyan din si UST."
"So it's our privilege na ma-invite sila. Actually, si Imee Hernandez, Detdet Pepito, and Eya Laure. So I think nasa kanila pa rin ang decision," he added.
Laure, Pepito, and Hernandez previously received call-ups to the national team that competed in the 2021 Asian Women's Club Volleyball Championships last October. According to Reyes, Fr. Rodel Cansancio, OP, the head of UST's Institute of Physical Education and Athletics, will guide the players in making their decision this time around.
"Kasi may mga personal reason din sila kung bakit sila sasama, at bakit sila magde-decline. Pero 'yun nga, may invitation naman na sila, so they will decide on that matter," he said.
"Pero sa aming coaches, siyempre malaking bagay 'yun na mapasama sila sa pool ng collegiate for AVC," he added.
Meanwhile, Almadro said that he has yet to hear from Ateneo's University Athletics Office if Nisperos or any of their players have been invited. He is confident, however, that the school will be "very supportive" should the PNVF come calling.
Nisperos was also called up to last year's 2021 Asian Women's Club Volleyball Championships.
"You know naman that Ateneo is very supportive of the national team, and to support the cause of the country. Ganoon ang Ateneo," he said. "We are supportive, kung they will be invited."
"We will prepare them for that, and it's an honor for us kung may ma-invite sa kanila. Talagang ano lang, matter of preparation, or maagang planning para sa amin din in Ateneo and sa national team, if Faith or some of the players will be invited," he added.
The 2022 Asian Women's Volleyball Cup is scheduled for August 21-28, with ten teams tipped to participate.