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ZUS Coffee rebrands, reloads, ready for PVL Reinforced

With a new name and an overhauled roster topped by the league’s No. 1 pick, ZUS Coffee head coach Jerry Yee expressed confidence in the team’s transformation from being a whipping team to a winning squad as the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference kicks off next week.

The Thunderbelles, formerly known as the Strong Group Athletics, picked four players from the recent PVL Rookie Draft, tying for the most selections made by the 12 participating teams in this historic event. ZUS Coffee made a strategic move by picking Alas Pilipinas middle blocker and former La Salle standout Thea Gagate as the top choice from a deep talent pool.

Adamson standouts Shar Ancheta and Nikka Yandoc were also chosen by the Thunderbelles in the second and third rounds, respectively, while Jenina Zeta of the University of the East was selected in the fourth round as the second-to-last pick in the draft.

“We hope to maximize our picks and make the most of the talents we’ve acquired,” said Yee. “We are very happy with our selections, and we have filled the positions we needed with the available players who meet our requirements.”

Considering the team will be composed of young players, Yee believes that the rookies, particularly Gagate, will play a major role for the team in the ongoing PVL season. The former Farm Fresh head coach highlighted Gagate’s height as a pivotal asset for the Thunderbelles, especially in the Reinforced Conference, which features tall, talented imports.

“Height is crucial, especially when competing against imports in the Reinforced and All-Filipino Conferences,” said Yee. “Thea’s height is a significant advantage. If we can get a good pass, her height makes it difficult for opponents to stop us. Her blocking is also a considerable asset. Any team in the PVL would be fortunate to have her.”

However, Yee and the rest of ZUS Coffee will have to wait as Gagate finishes her duties with Alas Pilipinas before making her debut with the team.

In Gagate’s absence, ZUS Coffee will rely on the collective efforts of Gayle Pascual, Cloanne Mondoñedo, Jade Gentapa and Michelle Gamit, along with holdovers Dolly Verzosa and MJ Onofre and Japanese reinforcement Asaka Tamaru.

Yee emphasized that the team will approach each game with a winning mindset.

“We will fight, of course. Winning is a process, and we hope it doesn’t take us too long to improve to their level. Experience, age, and power all play a role, but we are committed to the journey,” he added.

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