Top volleyball stars named to Philippine national team for 2015 SEA Games

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After more than a month of deliberations, the Philippine Volleyball Federation announced the members of the men’s and women’s national volleyball teams on Friday.

Veteran setter Tina Salak will spearhead the women’s team composed of 18 current and former UAAP and NCAA standouts. Joining her in the setter position are Kim Fajardo of De La Salle University and former University of Santo Tomas setter Rhea Dimaculangan.

Ateneo star Alyssa Valdez leads the pack of young blood that also include National University’s twin towers Dindin and Jaja Santiago and DLSU’s Ara Galang and Mika Reyes.

Veteran offensive weapons include Philippine Army’s Mary Jean Balse, Rachel Ann Daquis, Nerissa Bautista, and Jovelyn Gonzaga, Cagayan Valley utility spiker Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Air Force middle blocker Maika Ortiz, and former NCAA Most Valuable Player Honey Tubino.

In charge of floor defense are liberos Denden Lazaro of Ateneo, Jennylyn Reyes of Meralco, and Lizlee Ann Gata-Pantone of PLDT.

The team will be coached by DLSU’s Ramil de Jesus.

Meanwhile, the men’s team will be composed of reigning UAAP MVP Marck Espejo of Ateneo, Peter Torres, Vinz Mangulabnan and Reyson Fuentes of UAAP champion NU, FEU’s Paolo De Ocampo, JR Labrador, and Jessie Lopez, and UST’s Mark Alfafara, Henry Pecana, Jayson Ramos, and JP Torres.

Completing the roster are La Salle Dasmarinas’ Ranran Abdilla, College of Saint Benilde’s John Vic Guzman, San Sebastian’s Raffy Mosuela, Perpetual’s Sandy Montero, Rizal Technological University’s Jeff Malabanan, Emilio Aguinaldo College’s Howard Mojica, and PLDT’s Kheeno Franco.

UST head coach Odjie Mamon will call the shots for the men’s team.

The Philippines had been a serious medal contender in the Southeast Asian Games women’s volleyball until 2005, when the team last won the bronze medal.

The women’s team bagged a total of six gold, three silver, and five bronze since the country joined the Games in 1977.

The men’s team, meanwhile, last won a medal in 1991, bagging the bronze in the Manila SEA Games. They copped a silver and four bronze for a total of five medals in the SEA Game

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