Hello there, sportsfans!!! And welcome to the women’s volleyball hit parade!!! Yes, with the rousing success of the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference, fans will now be treated to a first-ever Shakey’s All-Star Weekend this November 16 and 17 at the San Juan Arena.
November 16 will feature an exhibition game pitting the Collegiate All-Stars, while the 17th will showcase the Open Conference Selection. The two-day extravaganza promises to be a big hit, with throngs of fans expected to come and join their favorite players. Aside from the exhibition games pitting the best collegians on the 16th, and the best non-collegians on the 17th, there will be picture booths for the fans, volleyball clinics, and autograph signing with our stars. This will be a good chance to meet our players, chat and learn from them, and get to know them more personally.
Already, the Shakey’s V-League Facebook site has been deluged by fans asking for the inclusion of their fave players in the 2-day spectacle. A cinch to make it in the Open Category are current MVP Juvy Gonzaga, fan favorites Alyssa Valdez, Rachel Anne Daquis and Angeli Tabaquero, plus veterans Mary Jean Balse, Dindin Santiago, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, and Rubie De Leon. With a foot inside the door are Mau Penetrante-Ouano, Melissa Gohing, Jen Reyes, Pau Soriano, Weng Eulalia, Jhek Dionela and Rhea Dimaculangan. Wonder if Finals MVP Soraya Phomla and Kannika Thipachot can come back for an encore. I’d give an arm and a leg for that.
Immediately after that, on November 23, the much-awaited UAAP Season 76 Volleyball Season opens! Yes, folks, it’s never a dull moment for women’s volleyball, as the popular collegiate league gets going with nationwide TV coverage courtesy of Studio 23. But that’s jumping the gun right there. For now, we want to train our sights on the All-Star Games.
Two months ago, I discussed the significant role of the sport’s poster girls, in promoting women’s volleyball and bringing in more fans. I talked about how the likes of Bobby Jaworski, Samboy Lim, Alvin Patrimonio and company were able to greatly influence the development of the country’s professional cage league a few decades back. We also saw that phenomenon in football, with the Fil-Brits Phil and James Younghusband providing the glamour and the appeal to make people sit and watch. In women’s volleyball, the entry of Leila Barros a few years back enchanted the fans with her skill, style and sexy ways, ushering in the sport’s rise to where it is now.
Our poster girls of today must realize that they now have a big responsibility on their shoulders. That is, to ensure that the sport’s popularity keeps moving forward. This responsibility includes – aside from the obvious need to win more consistently in local as well as international tournaments – the need to look good for the fans (and for the sport), the need to live a healthy lifestyle, the need to set a good example for the young, and so on.
It is how they comport themselves, particularly in front of the fans, that will make or break the sport. It is how they connect with the fans, and with the world, that will matter most. True, we need ferocity and flair inside the court, but this must come together with a friendly persona that’s ready to reach out and endear themselves with the crowd.
So there, ladies. If we truly want to propel women’s volleyball to greater heights, work hard at it. Work to improve your game. But other than that, it’s not just about how to get better with your sets and spikes, it’s about making sure you spike clear into the fans’ hearts.
(Photos courtesy of Soraya Phomla, Shakey’s V-League, Pinoy Spikers, volleyballplayerz.blogspot.com, vollywood.net, ph.sports.yahoo.com, arnold cruz, mark john mercado, jelvin base)