PH women’s head coach Jorge Edson Souza de Brito talks to the team before a tune-up game.

PH women’s head coach Jorge Edson Souza de Brito talks to the team before a tune-up game. JUNE NAVARRO/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

BARUERI, BRAZIL—Head coach Jorge Edson Souza de Brito approached his sweaty players one by one, patting everybody on the back for another job well done.

The Philippine women’s national volleyball team had just walloped the Barueri Volleyball Club under-21 (BVC U21) squad on its home floor, an encouraging sign of good things to come in the fast approaching 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

“We started from zero. Now, I can see that we have really improved a lot since we came here,’’ said De Brito after nearly two weeks of molding individual talents from the Premier Volleyball League into one harmonious unit.

The progress was quite evident before the PH spikers pummeled the BVC U21, in an emphatic 25-18, 25-14, 25-23, 25-18 win on Tuesday with Jaja Santiago, Mylene Paat, Ces Molina and Alyssa Valdez again rising to the occasion.

They already smashed the same team twice after trampling on Brazilian club Sesi Sorocaba in dominant fashion, ending their series of friendlies by dropping only one game out of five matches.

“We gradually improved in all areas, but of course it’s not enough. The good thing about this camp here is we are ready to use all the players because I can now trust them as a team,’’ said De Brito.

Back to Manila

The Brazilian coach will lean on a core of competent assistants in Odjie Mamon, Grace Antigua, Raffy Mosuela and Tina Salak, all of them former national team players, with Grace Gomez handling the physical well-being of the players.

With just one day of practice left, the PH spikers will head back to Manila on Wednesday, arrive home on Friday afternoon, rest for two days and return to another series of intense workouts for their final push for the SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, on May 12 to 23.

The national spikers are looking to find their first medal in the SEA Games since 2005 in Manila, but are likewise aiming for a finals stint for a chance to replicate the achievement of the gold-winning women’s team back in 1993 Singapore.

“We have players who are good at receiving, a pair of good setters, a lot of spikers and a system that is still a work in progress,’’ said De Brito.

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