//Spotlight

Meet Aleiah Torres and Nathalie Ramacula: The PVL’s Fil-Canadian Aspirants Chasing Their Dreams

Aleiah Torres and Nathalie Ramacula, two Filipinos based in Canada, are chasing their dreams of playing professional volleyball in the PVL. 

On top of local collegiate aspirants, the inaugural PVL Rookie Draft class will also include two Fil-Canadian hopefuls: Aleiah Torres and Nathalie Ramacula. Given their backgrounds playing overseas, it was hard not to notice the pair among the 47 other players in this year’s draft class, which includes a number of UAAP and NCAA stalwarts that fans may recognize. 

Throughout the two-day PVL Draft Combine in Mandaluyong, we got to know more about the pair as they tried to impress the PVL coaches assessing possible additions within the pool.

Born and raised in Canada

22-year-old Aleiah Torres was born and raised to Filipino immigrants in Toronto. A 5-foot-4 libero from Brock University, Aleiah has been playing volleyball since she was 12 years old. 

“I played for the varsity team there [in Brock University] and we were really successful. We won three championships. So hopefully, I can bring my experience and my winning championship and mindset to whatever team I get drafted to,” she told reporters during the PVL Draft Combine in Mandaluyong. 

While she’s based in Canada, Aleiah has been keeping tabs on Philippine volleyball. The 22-year-old admits she “likes watching the teams here,” on top of the “really exciting” and “involved” volleyball crowds.

Aleiah, who has family in Tanza, Cavite, and Tarlac, also attributes the PVL dream to her Filipino roots. “I just thought it was super exciting and being able to play in the Philippines is just super special for me since I have lots of family here.” 

Aleiah Torres
Aleiah Torres was a revelation during the PVL Draft Combine. (Photo Credit: PVL Images)

While nothing is certain, Aleiah is another Draft Combine revelation. On Day 1, Aleiah topped the one-minute pushups with 50 reps, as well as the modified agility T-test, where she clocked a group-best 5.98 seconds. 

During the Day 2 scrimmages, Aleiah also attempted to show some versatility by playing outside hitter in some of the games she participated in. However, she also admits that this was her first time being a spiker since she was “really young,” as she was a libero in her Brock University stint. 

“I put libero outside hitter just so I can show the teams how I play well-rounded, how I can serve, you know? Show them other aspects of me because as a libero you’re not able to showcase that, right? So I just wanted to put that position on there but my main position is libero,” she told The GAME. 

As a libero though, this is what Aleiah Torres had to say: “I can read the game really well. Especially from the backcourt, just playing defense and seeing what my teammates should be doing up at the net. I let them know how many hitters they have, where to attack, what’s open for them.

“I think I have a really high IQ on the court, a good leadership and I think I’m really fast. I like to chase down the balls,” she said, just hours before showing her potential in the Combine. 

Winnipeg-based, but…

A 20-hour drive away from Toronto is 23-year-old Nathalie Ramacula from Winnipeg. Nathalie is a 5-foot “libero/setter” from Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg, who has been playing since fifth grade. 

If all goes well, she hopes to be a libero in the PVL.

“Honestly, I had a lot of history for Beach as well ‘nung high school ako. And I played clubs as well. Tapos sa University of Manitoba din, I tried being a libero as well,” Nathalie told The GAME. 

Unlike Aleiah, Nathalie wasn’t actually born and raised in Canada. In fact, she’s actually from General Trias, Cavite, and only migrated as a 15-year-old due to her mom applying for permanent residency in Canada. 

Aleiah Torres' fellow Fil-Canadian Nathalie Ramacula
Nathalie Ramacula takes the first step in fulfilling her childhood dreams. (Photo Credit: PVL Images)

Prior to migrating, Nathalie was actually set to play for the UAAP, being recruited by Chie Saet at around 14 or 15 years old through a volleyball camp. By her estimates, the camp was organized by current Creamline vet Michele Gumabao in 2014.

“Coach Chi Saet recruited me in Grade 8 [and] I was in residency in UE. And after that, I flew to Canada. So unfortunately, I didn’t [get to] play in UAAP,” said Nathalie. 

Growing up a Philippine volleyball fan, Nathalie is actually pursuing a lifelong dream. On top of that, she’s also trying to prove that she can do big things with her small stature. 

“To be honest, for my height. I don’t think they would allow that [in Canada]. So that’s why I was really hoping that I can get in [the PVL]. So I can show my skills as well for my height,” she said, when asked about a semi-professional stint in Canada. 

Experiencing the Philippines

Right now, both ladies are tempering their expectations ahead of the draft. Aleiah Torres just expects to “have lots of fun”, on top of playing “really good volleyball”.

“Hopefully, I can contribute to whatever team I get drafted to and just experience everything that the Philippines has to offer,” she said.

Nathalie Ramacula, meanwhile, is just happy to experience Philippine volleyball again. She particularly admits missing the “hard training”, which is no longer needed in Canada given the Canadians’ physical gifts. 

While she’s glad to be home, Nathalie knows that the work is cut out for her. 

“More on like more adjusting like what they would like [to] play. Kasi it’s really different…ang pagp-play sa ibang bansa and in here din [Philippines]. So parang, really ang hirap mag-adjust. And iba din ‘yung trainings namin sa Canada than here,” she said. 

Of course, both Fil-Canadians have a list of players they hope to meet. For Aleiah, it’s Petro Gazz’s heavy hitter Brooke Van Sickle, and the high-leaping Sisi Rondina, who plays for Choco Mucho in the PVL. 

(Photo Credit: PVL Images)
(Photo Credit: PVL Images)

And with the impression she’s made in the Combine, Aleiah will likely be digging against Van Sickle’s lethal spikes in the PVL’s Reinforced and Invitational Conferences. Sisi, though, will have to wait given her Alas Pilipinas duties. 

“I have another friend from Toronto…Savi [Davidson] So I’m really looking forward to hanging out with her and meeting her,” Aleiah said, referring to the PLDT High Speed Hitters star. 

Nathalie, the homegrown Philippine volleyball fan, is eager to see Creamline’s Alyssa Valdez and Jema Galanza if she gets the PVL call-up. As a libero, she hopes to pick the brains of Dawn Macandili-Catindig, who holds the floor for both Cignal in the PVL, and Alas Pilipinas. 

She also hopes to get in touch with UST’s Detdet Pepito, who has established herself as an elite floor defender in the collegiate ranks.

“She’s really good and I think she’s my height so maybe… I hope na makilala ko siya and I get some advice as well as a libero.” 

Banner Images courtesy of the Premier Volleyball League.


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