April 14, 2024

PVL preview: Nxled locks in for a better All-Filipino Conference

PVL preview: Nxled locks in for a better All-Filipino Conference
Art by Mitzi Solano/One Sports

Locked and loaded.

The Nxled Chameleons had an impressive debut, picking up four wins in the 2023 PVL Second All-Filipino Conference. One of those was against their sister team Akari Chargers.

Now, they're just continuing to build that chemistry, even securing a bronze in the pre-season Akari Invitational Cup.

[ALSO READ: Nxled turns back Ateneo, secures Akari Invitational Cup bronze

With a prized recruit in Ivy Lacsina, along with valuable additions in Jai Atienza and assistant coach Juvie Mangaring, the Takayuki Minowa-led squad is ready to shine brighter.

Makulit lang talaga sila.

Coach: Takayuki Minowa

Departures: Jannine Navarro, Judith Abil

Acquisitions: Ivy Lacsina, Jai Atienza

AFC lineup

  •   Outside hitters: Jho Maraguinot, May Luna, Chiara Permentilla, Ivy Lacsina
  • Opposite spikers: Lycha Ebon, Camille Victoria
  • Middle blockers: Lia Pelaga, Krich Macaslang, Jai Atienza
  • Setters: Kamille Cal, Maji Mangulabnan
  • Liberos: Dani Ravena, Rachel Jorvina

Previous AFC record: 4-7 (9th)

Jho Maraguinot was the top performer for the Chameleons in their debut conference, as she was the team's highest scorer with 119 points. Ateneo Blue Eagles' Iron Claw was also the fourth best receiver of the preliminaries with a 38.30% efficiency.

The others didn't slack off either. Lycha Ebon was the second top scorer of the team with 117 points. Camille Victoria figured as the top blocker of the preliminaries with 22 kill blocks and an average of 0.59 per set. Krich Macaslang was also hailed the top server with 14 aces and average of 0.38 per set.

As a whole, Nxled was the top serving team of the preliminaries with a total of 58 aces and an average of 1.57 per set.

[ALSO READ: Ganbatte! PVL teams are embracing the Japanese system and why it's a good thing] 

Their best moment was an emotional one. At the time, May Luna was grieving for the loss of her mother and the Chameleons wore white ribbons to share their condolences.

It was only fitting that Luna delivered the crucial blows in defeating their older sister team Akari Chargers.

  

Check out their colorful highlights of the conference.

  

Oh captain, my captain

Team captain Dani Ravena said Nxled was blessed and fortunate that coach Taka stayed with them for another conference.

"Nakita natin na 'yung progress ng team was very good in a way that nobody expected. Even kami, we never expected for us to work well as much as we did," Ravena told reporters after practice.

"He still put is in a mindset na even if bago kami, bata kami, 'di naman ibe-belittle 'yung sarili namin," she added.

Coach's corner

The goal for coach Taka this conference is a fairly realistic one: reach the top six. Seems fair for a 12-team field.

The entry of Ivy Lacsina might just be the key, but they would have to wait until March, as she's still recovering from a knee injury sustained in practice.

[ALSO READ: PVL: Ivy Lacsina targets March debut for Nxled as she recovers from knee injury] 

And coach Taka has made it clear that he's thinking of Lacsina's future, as making her play as a wing spiker.

"I just talked to her about [what she wants] in the future. She wants to play abroad and for the national team," said Minowa.

"In the Philippines, they have a lot of tall middle blockers. It’s better for her to be an outside hitter. Because in the Philippines, the outside hitters are small. So if she can be a good outside hitter and a good passer, [she will be] more effective for the national team and PVL," he added.

[ALSO READ: Pick your poison, Ivy: Is Lacsina the next big thing in PH volleyball?

What they said

Coach Taka really knows how to motivate his players. At least, that's the impression Ivy Lacsina and Jho Maraguinot are getting.

Lacsina shared how she wants to use the maturity that she has learned from playing with veterans in the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers. At the same time, she is also learning patience and to trust the process from coach Taka regarding her conditioning.

"Kasi impatient ako pagdating sa sarili ko, 'di ako nasasatisfy. Sabi niya sakin through phone na 'wag ako ma-pressure kasi naka-process naman," she shared to reporters.

It also helped that the team was on her wavelength. Jaila Atienza also hails from Pampanga, while Camille Victoria comes from Tarlac.

"Pare-parehas kaming Kapampangan, kaya nakakapag-usap kami, sila nakakabiruan ko," she added.

  

Jho Maraguinot shared how coach Taka schools his team.

"He's very straightforward as a person, and I think ako kasi sana sa ganun. Pero his way is not the usual way na papagalitan ka, made-demoralize ka. With him, the way he says things is mamo-motivate ka talaga," she told One Sports.

"Papagalitan ka niya everyday, aayusin niya talaga para for him, 'di na rin mauulit na sasabihin 'yung mga ganung bagay."

It was his trust right off the bat that gave the Nxled Chameleons, players who didn't get the chance to showcase their skills in previous seasons, an opportunity to give back.

"I think everyone was very committed. Kumbaga gustong-gusto maglaro," Maraguinot noted. "Even though hindi niya kami nakita before kung paano kami maglaro, naniniwala siya sa amin. I think he sparked something in each player na, may naniniwala sa amin. 'Yun pa lang, nabigyan kami ng confidence."

"Kasi for him, madali naman 'yung skills. But if you don't have the confidence, the right mindset to play, balewala 'yung mga tine-training namin everyday."

  

It also helps that just like the team, coach Taka is also willing to have fun.

First bout

The Nxled Chameleons start their campaign against the Choco Mucho Flying Titans on Thursday, February 22, at the Filoil EcoOil Arena.

It will be aired on One Sports, One Sports+, and the Pilipinas Live app.

(With reports from Kiko Demigillo, Ohmer Bautista)