THE GAME 2022 July Web L Volleyball 1

Setting up: Spiking a new era of Philippine volleyball

Philippine volleyball has yet to see more major success internationally. But, athletes and leagues are making progress and setting local foundations.

With our basketball-crazy population, volleyball may just be second in the Filipinos’ hearts. The sport has been around for a long time as a recreational and professional sport, but rather recently, its presence in the country has been blossoming even more.  

You’ve probably tuned into a volleyball game at least once or twice, be it at the college or professional level. The sport has a very exciting nature, one that Filipinos seem to love. And the good news is that the growth that volleyball has seen locally is taking shape.

Setting local foundations

The Premier Volleyball League (PVL), formerly known as the Shakey’s V-League, is the country’s biggest league for the sport. And recently, it evolved in a major way, reflecting the sport’s growth.

As the Shakey’s V-League, it used to be an intercollegiate league. But, as other collegiate volleyball tournaments continued to gain more attention at the same time, like the UAAP and NCAA tournaments, the PVL recently went pro.

In 2021, the PVL transformed into a professional league. Now, it hosts successful teams like the Petro Gazz Angels and the Cignal HD Spikers and has a roster deep with big-name players. And the league is thriving commercially too, bringing in major sponsors to bring more attention to the league.

Just last April, the finals game between Creamline and Choco Mucho drew in a record crowd of over 16,000 fans in the SM Mall of Asia Arena. 

Now, with the PVL a successful professional league, young athletes will have more opportunities to pursue the sport as a career. We can hope that our country’s development locally will soon translate onto the international scene.

Planting seeds around the world
The Philippines' medals for volleyball from 2012 to 2022.

Truthfully, the Philippines’ presence in international volleyball competitions has not been solidified just yet. In the last ten years, we have competed in major tournaments like the Asian Games, the Asian Volleyball Championship, the Asian Volleyball Cup, and even the FIVB World Championship. But from 2012 to 2018, our teams had not stepped onto the podium.

However, we’ve recently seen more successes in our region. In the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, our men’s indoor volleyball team earned the silver medal. On top of that, in the recently concluded edition, our beach volleyball teams both finished with bronze medals.

In 2019, the Philippines also finished with two bronze medals in the ASEAN Grand Prix. Although we were only against three other nations in their inaugural season, earning some hardware against other countries with strong players is still a step in the right direction.

Philippine volleyball still has a lot of room to grow, especially internationally. But with recent successes, emerging local foundations, and our roster of talented athletes, it’s likely we’ll be headed on an upward trajectory.

Iconic names

Similar to basketball, many of our volleyball players have become national icons. Alyssa Valdez is one of the most well-known as she has a full list of awards under her name. She has won titles in the UAAP, won championships in the PVL, both recently and previously when it was still an intercollegiate league, and has represented the Philippines at international events.

Just recently, she was named the Finals MVP when her PVL team, the Creamline Cool Smashers, won the championship. She is definitely one of the most successful athletes to play on our courts.

And of course, there are many other talented athletes that have also been successful on multiple levels. Jaja Santiago, Kat Tolentino, and Diana Mae “Tots” Carlos are just a few of the athletes that have grown in this new era of Philippine volleyball.

But let’s not forget about our beach volleyball athletes who have made invaluable additions to our international medal tally. We have Jude Garcia, Krung Arbasto, Sisi Rondina, and Berndeth Pons to thank for our recent SEA Games volleyball bronzes. 

What’s next?

With volleyball’s emergent leagues, our newly-added medals, and our growing athletes, things may start to heat up with volleyball’s coming competitions. 

Recently, the UAAP Volleyball Championship tournament kicked off. Though we’re well into the season, it’s never too late to hop on the bandwagon. And if you regret missing out on the last PVL season, the next season commences this October.

Volleyball is now a staple sport in this country’s culture. Not only do we love watching it on TV, but it’s also a fun sport to play in your backyard or at the beach.

As the country continues to embrace our volleyball players across the many competitions we have in our arsenal, there is a lot to watch out for in this sphere.