With the country's staging of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games just months away, there has been very little news about the formation process of the Philippine women's volleyball team.
Many in the original pool of athletes are still immersed in the ongoing championship round of the Philippine Superliga (PSL) All Filipino Conference (AFC) while the rest are gearing up for the upcoming collegiate season and seeing action in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).
A highly-placed source close to the team told ESPN5.com that there will be several revisions to the pool, including the addition of some key names.
"We may have to consider taking out a number of collegians as the SEA Games will fall into the middle of their preparations for the college volleyball season," the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. "There are also some players who have already indicated that they may not be able to give their full commitment to the team, hence the impending rehashing of the pool."
Veteran libero Den-Den Lazaro was among the first to beg off from national team duties as she will be busy in the preparations for her wedding to PBA player L.A. Revilla next year.
"That actually solves a problem because it was a dilemma on which libero to leave out of the team," the source said.
Lazaro was named along with former PSL MVP Dawn Macandili of F2 Logistics and Generika-Ayala's Kath Arado as the floor patroller candidates for the team. With Lazaro's reported withdrawal, the two are now shoo-ins for the positions available.
However, with reports coming in that Fil-Hawaiian setter Alohi Robins-Hardy may not be able to secure her Philippine passport in time for the official submission of the line-ups by October, another adjustment must be made in that department.
Macandili's teammate Kim Fajardo was not included in the pool due an injury she sustained during the PSL's season-opening Grand Prix. But with the former De La Salle University playmaker suddenly thrust back into action towards the tail-end of the AFC, Fajardo is now being seriously considered to rejoin the pool.
Long time national team orchestrator Rhea Dimaculangan had already opted out of the pool citing personal reasons leaving only Creamline setter Jia Morado and collegian Gel Cayuna to join Robins-Hardy as candidates for the two spots.
But with the news that the college aspirants (with the exception of UST's Eya Laure) might be stricken from the pool, Cayuna-who is still part of the Far Eastern University (FEU) varsity squad-might also be stricken from the list, leaving only Morado and (quite possibly) Fajardo as the only setters. The coaching staff is still hopeful that 6'3" Robins-Hardy can still be given the green light to see action in biennial meet. Her fellow Fil-Hawaiian Kalei Mau of F2 Logistics already got her Philippine passport months ago.
As far as the attackers go, the source laments that many of those the coaching staff shortlisted were not able to attend the national tryouts slated before, but still might be able to tap those left out should there be changes in the pool.
Among those supposedly being eyed are F2's Ara Galang and Kim Kianna Dy, and the PVL's Jeanette Panaga, Maddie Madayag and Kat Tolentino.
There have also been speculations of having reigning UAAP MVP Sisi Rondina and Jovelyn Gonzaga, especially after their sterling performances in the PSL playoffs.
The source, however, quickly pointed out that this feisty duo have already been assigned to the beach volleyball team joining Petron's Bernadeth Pons, Generika-Ayala's Fiola Ceballos and host of other aspirants.
"We would have loved to have Sisi and Jovelyn on the team," the source said. "But they have a different calling and they could make a big impact on the sand, too."
The national pool is presently composed of collegians Cayuna, Laure, Tots Carlos of the University of the Philippines (UP) and FEU's Celine Domingo and Jerrili Malabanan (who also sees action for PLDT Home FIBR in the PSL) along with Fil-Americans Robins-Hardy, Mau and MJ Phillips of Sta. Lucia Realty. The veteran core consists of F2's Macandili, Aby Maraño and Majoy Baron, Petron's Lazaro, Mika Reyes, Ces Molina and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Foton's sister combo of Jaja Santiago and Din-Din Santiago-Manabat, Cignal's Mylene Paat and the PVL's Morado, Jema Galanza and Alyssa Valdez.
National team practices will become more frequent after the PSL Finals.