MANILA, Philippines -- As she gears up for her first stint in indoor volleyball in nearly a year, Jovelyn Gonzaga knows she has reason to be confident.
The veteran wing spiker made a successful comeback from a knee injury, then returned to her old stomping grounds -- the sand court -- and helped deliver a bronze medal for the Philippines in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.
Gonzaga teamed with Floremel Rodriguez, Sisi Rondina, and Bernadeth Pons in securing a podium finish for the women's beach volleyball team for the second straight edition of the SEA Games.
"'Yun naman ang dream ko talaga," Gonzaga said of the medal. "'Yun ang mina-manifest ko noong bata ako na nagsimula ako sa volleyball. Gusto magbigay ng medalya sa Philippines."
That achievement is fueling Gonzaga's confidence and motivating her for her return to indoor volleyball with Army-Black Mamba in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference.
The veteran skipped their campaign in the Open Conference earlier this year to focus on their preparation for the SEA Games. She last played in 2021 during the PVL Open Conference in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.
"Ngayon na nakakuha ako ng medal, I want more pa," said Gonzaga. "Nabigyan ka na ng medal and bronze siya, sobrang siyang nakaka-hype and nakakadagdag sa morale ko."
"Coming from an injury na ang daming nagsabi na hindi ka na makakabalik, coming from an injury, hindi mo na mababalik ang playing form mo. Pero eto ako ngayon," she added. "Gusto ko mag-set as an example to everyone na na-injure na hindi imposible, na kaya pa natin bumalik."
"Look at me now. Nakakakuha rin ako ng medalya, even after all na nangyari sa career ko."
Gonzaga returns to an Army team that features plenty of new faces. The Lady Troopers had added the likes of Michelle Morente, Jeanette Villareal, Aiko Urdas, and setter Ivy Perez in the recent Open Conference, where they finished in seventh place.
They will also be without Royse Tubino and Lut Malaluan, both of whom are focusing on their studies.
The first order of business for Gonzaga is developing her chemistry with Perez, their playmaker.
"Ang drive ko is makatulong sa team," she said. "Alam naman natin ang nangyari last season, kung anong standing ng team."
"Ang expectation is makakatulong talaga ako sa team. Ang focus ko lang kasi is magkaroon kami ng connection sa setter, kasi si Ibyang [Perez], ngayon ko lang magiging setter. 'Yun ang wino-workout ngayon," she added.
The PVL Invitational Conference starts on July 9 at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.