CAGAYAN DE ORO

NorMin spikers cheer for Valdez, PH women’s team

HEARTBREAKING START. Still, the Filipina spikers are optimistic to improve their fourth-place finish in Kuala Lumpur in this year’s Manila hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games. (Contributed Photo/Christian Maningo)

THE celebrated Filipina spikers suffered a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of underdog Vietnam which came back from a 21-25 first set loss to complete a five-setter turnaround (25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 15-8) on Tuesday’s opening of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games women’s volleyball at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

While the setback is both hurting and startling to the thousands of volleyball fans across the nation, PH best open spiker Alyssa Valdez and company will continue to inspire their young and budding “followers” from Cagayan de Oro and the rest of Northern Mindanao.

And why not.

With the national women’s team’s example, a handful of high school and college spikers from Northern Mindanao are now playing or modestly making a name in the big city as part of the university teams in the exciting UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) Games.

Among them are Ateneo Lady Eagles open hitter Erika Raagas, Martha Andre Raagas, Ranielle Rosales, Janel Delerio, and the tandem of beach volley sensations BB Love Barbon and Genessa Jane Eslapor of the University of Santo Tomas.

“Win or lose, just bring back the glory to the Philippines. Laban Pilipinas,” said Barbon, the UAAP Season 81 Rookie of the Year from the municipality of Quezon, Bukidnon.

“Bisan peldi, maka-proud gyod kaayo ang Team Pilipinas. Ang atmosphere sa volleyball karon mora na’g PBA,” said Oro nurse Peanuts Uy, the ever supportive mother of Erika’s cousins Martha Andre and Rea Maritela Raagas who are now with the UST Golden Tigresses in college and Ela Marjanna Raagas, UST Junior Tigresses “Rookie of the Year” awardee during Season 82 of the UAAP.

Watching SEA Games volleyball’s first games for men and women, Martha Andre Raagas said she thought the local squads came to Pasig gym well-prepared.

“Obviously, the level of competition in PH volleyball is much higher now it continues to grow throughout the years. As a player and Filipino maka-proud ug maka-inspire kaayo,” said the good-looking Martha Andre Raagas, who is also a budding model.

Hoping to improve its fourth place performance in SEAG’s previous edition, the glamorous PH women’s team—also composed of captain Aby Maraño, Kath Arado, Dawn Macandili, Ces Molina, MylenePaat, Aiza Pontillas, Eya Laure, Majoy Baron, Jia Morado, Mika Reyes, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rhea Dimaculangan -- will face defending champion Thailand on Thursday and silver medalist Indonesia on Saturday.


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