MANILA, Philippines — Despite their fruitful Philippine women’s volleyball team stint, Erin Pangilinan and the National University Lady Bulldogs are not resting on their laurels when they defend their crown in the Shakey’s Super League (SSL) preseason championship.
The NU core, bannered by Most Valuable Players Alyssa Solomon and Bella Belen as well as setter Lams Lamina and Pangilinan, represented the country in the two legs of the Southeast Asia (SEA) VLeague, where they ended up winless in six games.
They also finished 13th in the 14-team Asian Senior Women’s Volleyball Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand two weeks ago.
“We learned a lot as individuals and as a team. We will bring those learnings to our games. We’re also happy to experience the international level,” team captain Pangilinan told reporters in Filipino. “We also saw that we’re still far from the level that we want to achieve and the stand that we want to set.”
From three international tournaments, Pangilinan admitted the team is still adjusting to the new system of coach Norman Miguel, who returned to NU to help Karl Dimaculangan on the sidelines, and starting life without their seniors Cess Robles, Jennifer Nierva, and Joyme Cagande.
“We’re still adjusting to the things we still lack, Our national team stint set a benchmark for our team. We also need to polish our new system under coach Norman,” Pangilinan said.
NU, which swept the inaugural SSL preseason tournament capped by a title-clinching win over La Salle last year, will open its campaign on September 23 against the University of the East, bannered by rookie Casiey Dongallo, the Shakey’s Girls Volleyball Invitational League (GVIL) MVP from California Academy.
“I think that game will be very exciting for everyone because UE is making a new name [for itself] in the UAAP and they’re doing very great based on how they play and how they perform,” Pangilinan said. “For us in NU, we want to show them what we learned from the national team and what we can do as a team.”
The Lady Bulldogs are slated in Pool A together with NCAA teams San Sebastian College and Jose Rizal University.
Pangilinan, for her part, is also embracing a bigger role as a skipper and leading the frontline of NU as Sheena Toring continues to recover.
“Being a leader is already part of my character. Being a team captain this year is nothing new for me. It’s just we’re having a fresh start as a team,” said Pangilinan. “Sheena is not alone in her road to recovery. The team is behind her. We support her and we will wait for her. She’s doing great and she has been joining scrimmages and already doing spiking drills.”
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