Amanda Villanueva shows one perfect way of digging during a pregame warm-up, one knee on the floor and the other half bent and arms outstretched, in the ongoing Premier Volleyball League Open Conference, another grand event organized by Sports Vision in partnerships with Asics as its official league partner and Mikasa as its official game ball. (Photo by Nante Azores)
Of Filipino and American descent, pretty Amanda Villanueva of Banko-Perlas always wows the gallery with her high vertical jump at the net and solid floor defense.
Her alma maters – St. James Academy in Malabon and Adamson University later – had trained her, she says with some pride, to be that way, to be an asset for any team she’s with.
At five-foot-four, she has a vertical leap higher than most, which almost always sets her up for an accurate attack at the net. In the backline she defends as wonderfully as a libero, effectively sealing whatever leaks still remain on her team’s floor defense.
This lady with eyes the color of topaz is a joy to interview. She is articulate and will, amid the noise fanned by an ongoing game, strain hard to listen and understand the questions thrown at her.
One question, though, stymies her – how do you get to leap that vertically high? She’s at a loss for word to explain how the St. James Academy high school volleyball program is able to turn out girls who are high leapers like her and past and present teammate Ella de Jesus.
“I don’t know how they do it over at St. James, but Ella and I, because of that kind of training, are able to leap higher than most girls our height.”
Nicknamed Ella the Elevator by the imaginative sportswriters covering the volleyball beat, the five feet, two inches high school teammate of Amanda in St. James Academy, had been the Ateneo Lady Blue Eagles’ other main open spiker beside superstar Alyssa Valdez in their back-to-back title romp in the UAAP, and who now is manning, along with Amanda, the same position for the Banko-Perlas Spikers.
Amanda’s numbers in Banko-Perlas’ first three games in the PVL Open Conference glowingly speak of her effectiveness as a spiker despite her height. Nine points against Hair Fairy-Philippine Air Force Lady Jet Spikers, 11 against triple champion Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors, and 12 against the Lady Falcons of Adamson, where she graduated with a degree in BS Psychology, for a three-game total of 32.
Amanda credits her Adamson training and coach Dulce Infante for the defensive gem that she has become.
A volleyball analyst opines that if you have her as a libero, you have in your hand one highly dependable libero. If, on the other hand, she plays the attacking position, you will effectively have two liberos when she rotates to the backline.
That is what Banko-Perlas is enjoying from her now.
Amanda is among the fortunate athletes who look forever fresh and supremely fit. Evergreen Amanda, some call her.
“I super take care of my body by eating right. What I have become I owe largely to eating the right food. People suffer because of what they ate early in their lives.”
To wannabes who aspire to competing in big-time tournaments such as the PVL, she has this to say:
“Work at it if you really love the sport. Bring out the leader in you and make that leader guide you toward the attainment of your goal.”
Ma. Amanda Villanueva was born in America. She and her family relocated to the Philippines, specifically to her father’s hometown of Malabon City, when she was two.
She played intramural volleyball as a grader in St. James Academy. Not until she was in second year high did she start playing varsity also for St. James after which she joined the La Salle Green Spikers for two years during which she partnered with Cha Cruz in UAAP beach volleyball.
She spent her remaining years in the UAAP with the Adamson Lady Falcons, then suited up for PLDT Home Ultera which went on to sweep the Open and Reinforced Conferences of the V League in 2015. She took a one-year break to work in an insurance company in Dubai.
Back from Dubai, she started her second wind in the sport she’s most passionate about by joining the Perlas Spikers in the PVL Reinforced Conference and Banko-Perlas in the Open Conference now.
In between, she got to compete in the growing and expanding Beach Volleyball Republic multi-leg tournament, winning the La Union stop with partner Bea Tan, her Banko-Perlas teammate as well.
“I will continue playing for as long as I can,” she says in all seriousness. Judging by the way she super takes care of her body, volleyball fans will see her play for a long, long time.
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