Sweeter the Second Time Around


Vipers avenge last year’s loss; snag championship gold


TEXT   BY   MIKEL   STEVEN   B.   LUY
PHOTOS   BY   MARK   LOUIE   BALLADARES

In case you were wondering, this is what redemption looks like.

A year after their heartbreaking finals loss at the hands of the Faculty Lions, the Business and Management Vipers whipped up a sound, three-set dismantling of the Engineering and Architecture Tigers to quell whatever demons they had left lingering in them from last year’s finals debacle.

The win, which puts the Vipers back at the pinnacle of AdDU’s men’s volleyball division, is their 4th championship in the last 5 years. The final set scores were 24-26, 19-25, and 23-25 all in favor of the B&M Vipers.

A Tale of Opposite Ends

While throughout the game the Vipers’ attack was flawless, the Tigers struggled mightily with their game plan.

The first set opened up as a back-and-forth affair, as both teams still had fresh legs and full stamina. Both parties exchanged spikes and aces up until the final moments of the set, where the Vipers were able to squeeze through with a narrow 24-26 victory. Jan Villanueva of the Vipers contributed largely to their first set win with his timely plays.

The second set was touted to be as competitive as the first, but the Tigers seemed to lose their footing on their way to a 19-25 ousting. Even though the final score was relatively close, the set didn’t feel as competitive as it was supposed to be, as the Vipers took charge from start to finish. The Tigers managed to come up with some token plays near the end to bring the score closer. B&M Team captain John Paul Navales was brilliant during the second set and reigning tournament MVP Meikel Manaog of the Vipers was also beginning to warm up.

The third set saw a much more relaxed Viper team, as they seemed to have more fun and approached each possession with a visible calm. The Tigers, on the other hand, looked like their confidence was shaken from the previous two sets and dug themselves into an early hole. Joffrey Escoreal of the Vipers was devastating throughout the whole set, seemingly contributing with block, after block, after block.

During the waning moments of the third set and with the scores separated by a comfortable margin, the championship seemed to be within reach for the Vipers. But, the Tigers still had one run left in them and were able to trim the lead down to 2 points. The run, however, would prove to be a little too late, as the Tigers themselves would eventually commit the error that would cost them the game, 24-26.

The valiant block effort of Tiger Nice Bawi was key to their late resurgence.

When asked about what went wrong in their game plan, EA vice-captain Paul Rulona explained that it was a combination of poor execution and bad luck.

“What went wrong is that we didn’t execute the things that we practiced properly and we didn’t adjust as quickly as we normally do. Sayang lang, because as you can see, most of our errors during the third set were service errors. We really doomed ourselves,” He said.

‘It must feel pretty good’

Rightfully so, the Tigers punched their ticket to their matchup with the Vipers by eliminating the defending champion Faculty Lions in their previous match. So, it was expected that the Vipers would have their hands full come the championship game.

After the game, B&M team captain John Paul Navales admitted that he was prepared for the game to go to 5 sets.

“It really went by really fast. I know that the Tigers are a formidable team in their own right, and I was really surprised that we won it in just three sets. I really felt the pressure throughout the game, but in the end, we’ll take the victory anyway,” he said.

For reigning MVP Meikel Manaog, who was present during last year’s defeat to the Faculty Lions, this year was nothing short of satisfactory, as evidenced by his emotions after the game. Manaog was too busy shouting, and jumping around, and hugging it out, and posing for pictures with his teammates that he never got to share his sentiments about their comeback championship win.

In his place was again B&M team captain John Paul Navales, who explained that even though he wasn’t around during last year’s finals debacle, he knows the feeling of redemption.

“Even though I don’t really know how last year’s finals played out and I’m not aware of how my team performed, I’m still glad that I was able to give back to the B&M community. I don’t know how my teammates feel about successfully avenging last year’s loss, but I guess it must feel pretty good,” he said proudly.

Closure

Graduating EA team captain Anthony Ang, who after their loss concluded his final Palarong Atenista run, describes his finals experience as a form of closure despite not winning the championship.

“Well, it was fun while it lasted. Since it’s my last year, I really wanted to win the championship as a form of closure. But weirdly enough, I don’t feel any bitterness at all. Maybe it stems from the fact that the players from the opposing team are also my friends and that I know their really good and deserving champions,” he said emotionally.

Additionally, Ang also had a message to all the players that will still be playing in the following Palarong Atenistas.

“For all the players that will still be playing in the future, always practice hard and play your heart out in every game para pag natalo o hindi naabot ang goal, contented parin kayo at walang bitterness na ma-feel,” he imparted.