MANILA, Philippines -- Team Rebisco ended its campaign in the 2021 Asian Women's Club Volleyball Championship without a win, but the Filipinas are still grateful for their stint in the competition.
The Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) sent two squads to the club tilt, with Team Choco Mucho featuring veteran campaigners, while Team Rebisco was composed mostly of young players -- some of whom have yet to play at the collegiate level.
With veterans Aby Maraño and Dindin Santiago-Manabat serving as their leaders, Team Rebisco showed signs of promise, even snatching a set from eventual semifinalist Saipa. However, they could not grab a win in the group phase, and bowed to Team Choco Mucho in the classification round.
Even with the less than ideal results, the players of Team Rebisco are simply happy to have been able to compete in the first place.
"We got to play with our veteran ates," said Faith Nisperos, who had 12 points in their four-set loss to Choco Mucho on Wednesday afternoon in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.
"It was really a very good experience for us younger girls, and we have learned a lot," she added. "This experience has been a very good step for us, especially us college students."
For most of the Team Rebisco players, their participation in Nakhon Ratchasima was their first taste of competitive action since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down virtually all sports in March 2020.
Players like Ateneo de Manila University's Nisperos, National University's Jennifer Niera and Ivy Lacsina, and University of Santo Tomas' Eya Laure had not played for over a year, after the UAAP women's volleyball tournament was cancelled.
Among the Rebisco players, only Jema Galanza, Santiago-Manabat, and setter Rhea Dimaculangan had been able to play in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference in August.
But team captain Maraño, whose F2 Logistics team withdrew from the PVL, was proud of their performance and hopeful for the future after seeing how their younger players competed against some of the top clubs in Asia.
"Saludo sa mga bata," Maraño said in an Instagram post. "Ang laki ng potential basta’t 'wag lang magsasawa."
"Aral lang ng aral and keep yourselves grounded. Magtiwala kayo na iga-guide namin kayo ng mabuti para sa ikabubuti ng future niyo. Maganda ang plano sa inyo ng team — trust the process," she added.
"Walang bibitaw dito, walang ayawan, walang magku-quit at lalong walang kakalas."
Team Choco Mucho, meanwhile, is in a battle for fifth place with Kazakhstan's Zhetysu as of press time.