MANILA – The main girls behind National University's (NU) University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women's volleyball title conquest will headline the Philippine team to the Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup for Women that will take place later this month in Pasig.

The Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) announced on Saturday night that 12 players from the Lady Bulldogs have been called up to the national team, namely Ivy Lacsina, Bella Belen, Shaira Jardio, Evangeline Alinsug, Cess Robles, Sheena Toring, Jen Nierva, Nicole Mata, Alyssa Solomon, Camilla Lamina, Kamille Cal and Joyme Cagande.

Initially, only Nierva, Solomon, Lacsina, Belen, Lamina and Cal were selected to the pool as announced by Head Coach Jorge De Brito last month.

However, the PNVF eventually decided to stick with the NU core, which won a UAAP title for the first time after 65 years, paving the way for Jardio, Alinsug, Robles, Toring, Mata, and Cagande to be called up as well.

"The women’s national team coaching staff led by Brazilian Jorge Edson Souza de Brito and assistant coaches Karl Dimaculangan and Cherry Macatangay picked the members after a series of tryouts and scouting," the PNVF said in a statement.

Dimaculangan happens to be the Lady Bulldogs coach as well, steering them to a rare 16-0 season finish.

The two non-Lady Bulldogs that will complete the team are California Precision Sports' Jelai Gajero and Akari's Trisha Genesis, the lone pro selected.

The Philippines is grouped together with Vietnam, China, Iran and South Korea in Group A of the AVC Cup for Women slated from Aug. 21-29 at the PhilSports Arena in the said city.

The Philippines will first meet its Southeast Asian neighbor on Aug. 21 and will take Aug. 22 off before facing China, Iran, and South Korea respectively in consecutive nights afterward.

All the participating teams, including Group B members Japan, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Chinese Taipei, and Australia, will have a break on Aug. 26, but the top four teams from each group will return for the knockout stages beginning with the quarterfinals on Aug. 27, where the winners will play in the Aug. 28 semifinals.

The championship game is scheduled on Aug. 29.

Nationals joining PVL

As part of its preparations, the national team will see action in the semifinals of the PVL Invitational Conference.

The Nationals accepted the invite to be a guest squad at the 11th hour after Kobe Shinwa Women's University, the one initially invited to play, begged off due to coronavirus disease 2019 concerns.

"The Kobe Shinwa Women's University told us that they won't be able to fly to the country last night because one of their players tested positive and the rest of the team were close contacts," said Sports Vision president Ricky Palou, whose company runs the PVL. "The PNVF has agreed to field in the national squad, replacing the Japanese team, saying it would benefit the national team."

The Philippine team will play five matches in six nights, beginning with three straight days of action.

The Nationals will first face Creamline on Monday before facing Army on Tuesday, both matches at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, and Cignal on Wednesday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.

The Philippine team will take the Thursday off before returning to the FilOil EcoOil Centre to face the other guest team in the tournament, KingWhale-Taipei, on Friday and PLDT on Saturday. (PNA)