The national women’s volleyball team marched to the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games with very little preparation.
And they paid a handsome price for it.
Setter Jia Morado admitted that they had a hard time competing in the biennial meet, prompting them to finish without a single win against teams who have been playing together for several years.
Against Indonesia, their lack of experience was very obvious.
Despite racing to match point, 14-12, the Nationals cracked under pressure as star spiker Megawati Pertewi delivered clutch points that silenced the entire Philsports Arena.
When the smoke cleared, the Nationals broke down in tears, couldn’t explain how they lost a game that could have given them a medal for the first time in 14 years.
Morado offered a logical explanation.
“I think more than anything, we fell short in preparation for the SEA Games,” said the former Ateneo de Manila University star following their heart-breaking 20-25, 26-24, 15-25, 25-20 and 14-17 loss to the Indonesians in the battle for bronze medal.
“We went up against teams who have been playing together for years.”
Morado was right.
The Nationals started their buildup around March, but only got together after the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference last October. They went to Thailand for a training camp in Bangkok before taking a short trip to Nakhon Ratchasima for the Asean Grand Prix.
They also saw action in the Asean Grand Prix in Laguna, but the attendance was erratic due to various commitments. They also trained in Japan and competed in the PSL Super Cup with some stars missing.
The only time they got together with a complete attendance was in the weeks leading to the biennial meet, where they had a mini-camp in Manila in a last-minute attempt to develop cohesiveness and chemistry inside and outside the court.
That’s why bowing down in the SEA Games didn’t come as a surprise to most of the players.
Still, they’re not losing hope.
“A lot of players haven’t lost hope despite a winless campaign in the SEA Games,” Morado said.
“A lot of things also happened, which could only be fixed through experience. I’m sure other strong teams have also went through this in the past.”
National squad head coach Shaq de los Santos agreed.
“Of course experience is still the foundation we have to build on,” he said.
“This is an international stage and the competition is much higher so the competition is also different.”