PH female beach spikers to use Olympic qualifiers for exposure, SEA Games preps

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) – The Philippine women's beach volleyball team will use their stint in the upcoming Asian Volleyball Confederation Continental Cup to gain exposure and prepare for the 31st Southeast Asian Games in November.

Majority of the Filipina beach spikers who won the bronze medal in the 2019 SEA Games will see action in the AVC Continental Cup which include Sisi Rondina, Bernadeth Pons, and Dij Rodriguez. UAAP Most Valuable Player Babylove Barbon completes the cast, replacing Dzi Gervacio who's recovering from a knee injury.

National team head coach Paul Jan Doloiras told CNN Philippines on Monday that the Filipina spikers have a long shot to get the coveted lone Tokyo Olympics slot that will reward the winner of the tournament, slated from June 18-27 at Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.

Doloiras emphasized the beach spikers will acquire the needed exposure in the AVC Continental Cup as top Asian beach volleyball teams will join in the meet.

"Exposure is very important to make our spikers more confident and learn to shrug off pressure in the end of the game, as seen in their performance in SEA Games," Doloiras said.

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The Philippines will first play in the four-team semifinal round, where the top two squads will advance in the eight-country final round.

"Our goal is really to qualify for the final round so that we can gauge the level of play when we face the best teams in Asia including our neighbors Indonesia and Thailand. At least, we will have an idea when the time comes that hopefully we can qualify for the Olympics," said Doloiras.

Doloiras added the men's and women's beach volleyball teams will start their month-long bubble training at Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte on Tuesday in preparation for the continental tournament.

"Our spikers are 100% well-conditioned because they are working on their strength and conditioning since February. Since we are small in height, we will focus on the players' defense and ball control which propelled us to the bronze [medal finish] in the last SEA Games," said Doloiras.

The Philippine team head coach expressed his eagerness for the Filipina spikers to win a silver or gold in the Hanoi SEA Games since it can inspire more children to play beach volleyball.

"A sport is hard to play, unless people see the results. If the youth see that athletes are performing well in a sport, many will be obliged to play," Doloiras said. "We need to maintain our good showing to be a role model for the next generation of beach volleyball players."