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Who plays an important role in volleyball?

The smallest player in the volleyball court slides and dives to keep the ball in play. She doesn’t appear in the stat sheets, but plays an important role in defense.

Meet Dawn Nicole Macandili, the lone libero of the women’s squad that placed fourth in the 29th Southeast Asian Games.

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Macandili, a mainstay of University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) champion La Salle, took the role after starter Denden Lazaro pulled her hamstring during the run-up to the Games

“I felt really honored and then excited to be part of the team,” said Macandili who earned the spot by virtue of her impressive performance in the Asian Seniors volleyball tournament in Manila.

Because of her quickness and keen anticipation, Macandili’s performance in the Games did not go unnoticed.

Her defense allowed Jaja Santiago and Alyssa Valdez to be set up for the kills.

“Macandili is one of our best liberos and will get better,” said head coach Francis Vicente.

The 21-year-old psychology student said she was disappointed with the losses suffered by the team.

“I believe that we were a strong contender and have great potential, and a lot more to offer,” she said. “That’s why I felt bad for our losses that I knew we could have – should have won.”

After an impressive win over Malaysia, the team lost in straight sets to Vietnam and Thailand.

In the battle for the bronze, the Filipinas took the first set, but were outplayed in the next three sets by the Vietnamese.

Although she started as a spiker, her transition to libero was inevitable when she entered high school.

“Dahil sa height ko,” admitted Macandili who stands five feet.

Macandili does not give a fuss about the role she plays.

“There’s specific training for liberos, same goes for each position in the team,” she said.

Macandili left Tuesday for Manila, a day after the team lost to Vietnam in the battle for the bronze.