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Jia de Guzman credits career experiences for Best Setter award

Jia De Guzman, the captain and setter of Alas Pilipinas, was overwhelmed with emotion following her team's triumphant campaign at the 2024 AVC Challenge Cup for Women. 

Under her leadership, Alas Pilipinas secured a historic bronze medal, marking their first podium finish at the Asian level. 

Adding to the team's accolades, De Guzman earned the Best Setter award in the 10-nation tournament, which saw Vietnam taking the top spot.

Reflecting on these achievements, De Guzman remained mindful of the legacy left by previous Philippine teams. 

“Well, this is a big milestone but at the same time, we also had milestones before hindi lang natin natuloy yung momentum so that's what we're praying for now,” said the Denso import, recalling successes that previous national teams had.

“Hindi naman ito nagsimula sa amin na talaga. There were others before us also so sana po tuloy-tuloy po yung suporta para tuloy-tuloy rin po kami makapaglaro at makapag-improve as a team,” continued De Guzman on Wednesday night after the awarding ceremony.

De Guzman’s dedication to the national team spans a decade, with numerous appearances in continental and regional tournaments, including the Asian and Southeast Asian Games. Throughout these years, continuity has been a recurring issue, with the national team often struggling to maintain its composition.

The recent success of Alas Pilipinas, formed just weeks before the AVC Challenge Cup, has given De Guzman hope for the future. 

She wishes for this special team to remain intact—a sentiment echoed by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF). 

Tats Suzara, PNVF's president, confirmed plans to retain the current squad and mentioned that National University stars Alyssa Solomon and Bella Belen, along with University of the East’s Casiey Dongallo, are expected to join the team soon. 

Solomon and Belen were absent from the tournament due to recovery needs following a UAAP championship run, while Dongallo was nursing an arm injury.

Despite her individual achievement, De Guzman remained humble, attributing her success to those who have influenced her career. 

“This one (Best Setter award), this one is a big bonus and I owe it also to lahat ng na-experience ko ever since I started playing,” said the eight-time PVL Best Setter. "Lahat po ng coaches and players na na-encounter ko, they made me who I am today. So, maraming salamat po."

De Guzman's journey and her unwavering commitment to her team underscore the bright future of Philippine volleyball, as she continues to inspire both her teammates and fans alike.

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