Chemistry, teamwork and sacrifice proved better than individual talent as the underrated Arellano Lady Chiefs shocked all the experts by winning this year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association Ladies Volleyball Tournament.
Before winning the title the Lady Chiefs were so underrated that not one player on their team won any of the post season awards.
San Sebastian’s Grethel Soltones won the season’s Most Valuable Player and Best Scorer awards. Her teammates Nikka Dalisay and Alyssa Eroa won the Rookie of the Year as well as the Best Digger and Receiver awards. Perpetual Help University’s Shyrra Cabriana took home the Best Setter and Server awards. College of St. Benilde’s Jeanette Panaga was adjudged Best Attacker and Best Blocker.
The other teams may have had the star players but the Lady Chiefs played better as a unit as they relied on years of bonding and being together to develop the cohesion needed to become a champion team.
The players - among them Cristine Joy Rosario, Menchie Tubiera, Shirley Salamagos, Danna Henson, Eunice Galang, Angelic Legacion and Rialen Sante - developed that bond of because of years of being teammates and friends.
The Lady Chiefs lived together, ate together, slept together in their dorm and did things together even putting up numerous YouTube videos where they danced and sang and generally just having fun like regular teenagers.
Being overlooked and underestimated only served to fuel the drive of the players to work even harder and make whatever sacrifices were needed to finally bag that elusive championship according to veteran setter Angelica Legacion.
“Sobrang hirap ng pinagdaanan namin para makamit namin lahat ng aming pinapangarap, ang mag champion. Mahigit ilang taon naming pinaghandaan ang pagkakataong makamit namin ang championship (We went through so many hardships to achieve our dream of becoming a champion. We spent several years working hard and preparing to earn the championship),” said Legacion.
The graduating student thanked school authorities for supporting the team. She acknowledged that the team would not have won without the administration’s support as well as the rousing cheers of the students who went out of their way to attend the games.
“Nagpapasalamat kami sa mga taong tumutulong sa amin katulad ng may-ari ng Arellano hindi lang sa scholarship kundi pati na rin sa suporta at pagbibigay ng mga pangangailangan namin. Binigyan lang namin ng sukli lahat ng ibinibigay nila (We want to thank everyone who helped like the owners of Arellano not just for the scholarships but also for all the support and assistance in taking care of our needs. We could do nothing less for everything they’ve done for us),” she said.
School representative to the NCAA Management Committee Peter Cayco expressed his pride and gratitude for the accomplishment of the Lady Chiefs.
“The school and the whole Arellano University community is proud of the team. Hopefully, this is a start of something bigger for us,” said Cayco.
It took Lady Chiefs coach Obet Javier six long years to finally win an NCAA title as coach of the Arellano Lady Chiefs. But his (as well as the school’s) patience finally paid off when the Lady Chiefs were crowned NCAA volleyball champion.
He took over the Arellano University’s women’s volleyball program in 2010 and patiently built up the Lady Chiefs from also-runs to NCAA champions.
After six seasons with Javier at the helm Arellano finally copped its first-ever championship with a two-game Finals sweep of San Sebastian College. The Lady Chiefs had to rely on teamwork and cohesion rather than strong individual performances to win.
“There are no Arellano players among the individual awardees. This because everybody is involved in the things we do, whether in offense or in defense. And I’m happy it worked for us all season,” said Javier in a published report.
After the Lady Chiefs won the title open spiker Menchie Tubiera did earn recognition as the Most Valuable Player of the Championship. Tubiera said the players never lost faith and maintained their trust in each other.
“Hindi kami nawalan ng lakas ng loob at tiwala sa isa’t isa. Naglaro kami as a team and also as a family. Higit sa lahat hindi kami nakalimot tumawag sa Diyos (We did not waver and we maintained our trust in each other. We played as a team and as a family. Most of all we did not forget to pray to God),” said Tubiera.
The Arellano spiker said the team started practicing for this season almost immediately after they lost last year’s playoff to eventual champion Perpetual Help. The team had a very short break and did not rest and focused instead on winning the NCAA title this time around.
They are not satisfied with just one title thought. They are intent on winning a second NCAA title next season.
“Pinag-iisipin na namin kung paano namin mapapanatiling kami ang magchampion next season. Kasi bawat team siguradong naghahanda na rin sila katulad ng paghahanda namin sa susunod na season (We are already thinking of ways to retain the championship next season. I am sure every other team in the NCAA is already preparing for the next season),” said Tubiera.
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