Gonzaga leads national pool for SEA Games beach volleyball

Jovelyn Gonzaga's national team career will come full circle as she's expected to represent the Philippines anew on the sand court.

Before becoming a staple in the country's indoor team, Gonzaga competed on the international beach volleyball stage, making her debut in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.

National coach Paul Jan Doloiras convinced Gonzaga to return to beach volleyball after Gonzaga's recovery from an ACL injury that sidelined her for a year and a half.

"Jovelyn Gonzaga is one of the best beach volleyball players in the country," said Doloiras. "When I found out that she's no longer part of the indoor national team, I invited her for beach volleyball."

Coming from a long layoff from the sport, Gonzaga considered Doloiras' invitation as a huge morale booster.

"He told me that he'll include me in the lineup and he'll help me with my conditioning," said Gonzaga. "He also told me that we'll join more international tournaments, not just the SEA Games."

Gonzaga, captain of the indoor squad that competed in the 2015 SEA Games, initially thought that her national team duties were over.

"I already accepted that younger players are more deserving now," said Gonzaga. "I told myself that I'll focus on professional leagues instead. So the chance that coach Dolo gave me is a big deal. It means that there are still people who believe in me."

Gonzaga will join sand court stars Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons in the national beach volleyball team. Rondina and Pons represented the Philippines in the SEA Games two years ago and the FIVB World Tour last May.

Also part of the training pool are Dzi Gervacio and Floremel Rodriguez, and reserve players Babylove Barbon, Genesa Eslapor, and Mary Rose Jauculan.

"We no longer held tryouts because I know all the best beach volleyball players in the country," said Doloiras, who also coaches UST's beach volleyball team.

Three months before the SEA Games, the national team has yet to start training because the players are still busy playing for their respective club teams.

"We're still waiting for them to finish their commitment in indoor volleyball," said Doloiras. "Hopefully after the PSL, we can start. Hopefully, we can play outside the country so that we can expose them to a higher level of competition."

According to Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI), Romnick Rico will assist Doloiras in the women's team, while Parley Tupaz and Jason Gabales will coach the men's team.