PSL All-Star to put premium on defense
(philstar.com) - March 1, 2016 - 10:34pm

MANILA, Philippines – Defense will be its forte when the Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Star competes in the prestigious Thailand Super League women's invitational volleyball tournament from March 23-28 at the MCC Hall of The Mall Bangkapi in Bangkok.

No less than PSL president Ramon "Tats" Suzara issued the marching order late Tuesday shortly after presenting the members of the 14-man squad led by the charming pair of Rachel Anne Daquis of RC Cola-Army and Cha Cruz of F2 Logistics.

Aside from Daquis and Cruz, also included in the team are Rhea Dimaculangan and Maika Ortiz of Foton; April Ross Hingpit and Jeanette Panaga of Cignal; Jen Reyes, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Mina Aganaon and Frances Molina of Petron; Melissa Gohing and Michelle Gumabao of Philips Gold; and Stephanie Mercado and Aby Marano of F2 Logistics.

Two-time champion George Pascua of Petron will be the head coach while Macky Carino of Cignal will be his chief deputy.

"What we have is a fighting team which has a combination of skills, power and beauty," said Suzara, who served as the secretary-general of the Philippine Amateur Volleyball Association (Pava) when the country won its last gold medal in the women's volleyball in the Southeast Asian Games.

"Defense – both at the net and on the floor – made the 1993 SEA Games team very successful. That's why I told George to put special emphasis on blocking and reception. We may not be the tallest, but if we have solid defense, at least we stand a good chance against the best club teams in the region."

Pascua echoed Suzara's statement, saying that the oppositions, led by reigning champion Bangkok Glass, are not too tall, making it easier for them to contain their attacks if they will come up with a solid defense at the net.

He added that Bangkok Glass, which is expected to parade its national team members in Pornpun Guedpard, Wnida Kotruang and skipper Pleumjit Thinkaow, remains as the team to beat while Thai squads like King-Bangkok, Idea Khonkaen, 3BB Nokhonnont, Supreme Chonburi and Nakhon Ratchasima as well as a potent squad from Hong Kong are also tipped to give them a serious fight.

The eight teams will be divided into two groups where the top two squads will clash in a crossover semifinals. The survivors of the semis will figure in a sudden-death finals showdown.

"It's going to be an uphill climb," said Pascua, who led Petron to a decent run in the AVC Asian Women's Club Championship in Phu Ly, Vietnam last year.

"Since they are not too tall, Sir Tats told us to work more on our defense to throw them off their comfort zone. This team is already overflowing with talent. So to make it more successful, we have to work hard as a unit and come up with a solid defense."

The squad leaves for Bangkok on March 21.

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