Jia De Guzman's return to the Philippine Women's National Volleyball Team saw her battle familiar faces in the 2022 PNVF AVC Cup for Women.
And on Saturday night, on the other side of the net was Thailand setter Pornpun Guedpard, who steered Thailand during the past Volleyball Nations League.
It was a reunion of some kind as the two last faced each other in the 30th Southeast Asian Games back in 2019 also at the PhilSports Arena.
There, De Guzman and the Philippines mightily challenged powerhouse Thailand, almost snagging a set but ultimately fell in the third frame, 32-34.
This time though, even the Nationals ran out of gas, they were able to pull off a set against the Thais, 18-25, 25-23, 20-25, 9-25, at the very same arena they locked horns three years ago.
“The Philippines played very well. They made our team work for every point and we have to keep our guard up. We had to keep our focus and then how to counter and win,” Guedpard shared after the match.
“This team is different from that SEA Games team, and I think this is better. So, we have to also work for the win.”
After three years, the respect between the two orchestrators grew much more.
Guedpard said De Guzman improved since the last time they played each other.
“She is getting better. I last saw her two or three years ago, and she had better systems now. She is getting to be a good setter, and [the Philippine] team played well in the system.”
De Guzman also praised the Thai setter who took the reins after legend and the former's idol Nootsara Tomkom retired from national team duty.
The six-time PVL Best Setter was in awe of Guedpard's leadership especially after the Philippines nabbed the second set.
“She’s a very good setter. She’s the top controller of her team’s offense talaga. Gamay na gamay niya yung plays ng spikers niya talaga. And she serves as a good leader also inside the court; she’s very vocal," said De Guzman.
“She’s already one of the seniors of her team, so we have to give to her.”