For Grethcel Soltones, her recent move from Petro Gazz to Akari in the 2024 Premier Volleyball League season not only marks a change in team but also a shift in her role – from seasoned player to mentor and leader.
Soltones, previously surrounded by the likes of Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Chie Saet in her tenure with the Angels, finds herself adapting to a new set of teammates within the young and vibrant Akari squad.
The adjustment, however, has been a seamless process, as she shared during the PVL Media Day.
“It's not difficult because, you know, as individuals, each one of them is easy to get along with. Also, I'm not used to being one of those looked up to by the younger ones... So here, I'm the 'ate' now,” Soltones expressed.
In her newfound leadership role, Soltones emphasizes a supportive approach, guiding her younger teammates with reminders and lessons from her wealth of experience.
The shift from being a peer to a mentor is a significant adjustment, but one she embraces wholeheartedly.
Off the court, their camaraderie flourishes, but translating that chemistry onto the court proves to be a gradual process.
Akari, under the guidance of program director Taka Minowa, is still integrating new players into their system. The recent Akari Cup, where they secured a second-place finish, played a pivotal role in smoothing this transition.
"Our chemistry is a work in progress, especially for me as a newcomer. We're working on it, starting with small bonds, and it's progressing," Soltones remarked. "But in the last Akari Cup, we've become more cohesive compared to our initial training sessions. So, there's progress, albeit gradual."
This season marks Soltones' debut with Akari, a departure from her previous stint with Petro Gazz since the 2021 Open Conference.
Her time with the Angels includes notable achievements, from clinching the championship in the 2022 Reinforced Conference to securing silver and bronze finishes in various conferences.