Lucky 13 for Daquis

For some, no. 13 brings bad luck, sickness and death. That’s the reason why there’s no 13th floor in buildings and Friday the 13th is largely considered as freaky and unlucky. But for Rachel Anne Daquis of RC Cola-Army, no. 13 signifies her growth, hope and ability to overcome extreme difficulties.

It is a badge of honor that reminds her of her great odyssey from a shy teen into being the winningest volleyball player in the country and one of the only seven local players who will compete in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship this October at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Daquis knows that the journey wasn’t easy.

She invested a huge amount of blood, sweat and tears just to perfect her craft.

She stood tall against great adversities and went on with her trek despite the odds being stacked against her.

Along the way she crumbed, suffered and was challenged. Nevertheless, she still managed to picked up the pieces and walked again.

That’s what made her a lot stronger.

Extreme difficulties

Daquis’ journey to greatness isn’t a walk in the park.

While the stars of today were heavily recruited out of high school, Daquis had to hop from one school to another just to hunt for a coach who is willing to trust her and offer her an athletic scholarship.

Her first target was University of Santo Tomas.

But upon arriving at the school’s Espana campus, the team was in Cebu for a pre-season tournament. And with the enrollment drawing near, Daquis and her mom took an a stressful walk to the nearest school – Far Eastern University in Morayta.

FEU women’s team head coach George Pascua vividly remembers his first meeting with Daquis.

She stepped inside the campus with very limited volleyball knowledge.

But I saw the fire in her eyes, the eagerness to learn and to submit herself into the program. That’s why I told her that if she will be patient, if she will work hard, she might land an athletic scholarship.

Daquis eventually made the cut.

The road to success, however, just got a little bit rockier.

There was a time when we were doing weights training and she didn’t want to load up because her legs would get bigger. She is already a model at that time and I know where she’s coming from.

I was pissed. So I sent her home.

The following day, she was the first to report for training. She was working hard as if nothing happened. That’s how hungry and passionate she is. That’s how much she loves volleyball.

Making the switch

During those restless days at FEU, Daquis was wearing jersey no. 3.

But with hard work and determination, she managed to lead the Lady Tamaraws to the title of UAAP Season 70 laced with a couple of individual awards in Season 68 and 69.

Then, she was recruited to be part of the Philippine army volleyball team.

That’s the time that she realized that she has to level up as well.

When my college eligibility was over, I know I have to level up not just my game, but my jersey number as well.

So I added “1” on my jersey no. 3 to make it 13. I know it’s unlucky, but for me, it signifies my growth and progress not only as an athlete, but as a person as well.

Daquis was born on Dec. 13 so the number really has a special place in her heart.

“This jersey number is a lucky one; it is my lucky charm.”

In full bloom

True enough, jersey no. 13 turned Daquis into a winner.

Right after her UAAP career, Daquis won a pair of titles in the V-League for FEU and Philippine Army. Then, she joined the Lady Troopers in their campaign in the Philippine Superliga, emerging victorious in the 2013 Inaugural Conference and the 2103 Grand Prix.

The Lady Troopers took a breather after that and Daquis transferred to Petron to reunite with Pascua and FEU schoolmates Shaq Delos Santos and Edjet Mabbayad.

At Petron, she conspired with imports Alaina Bergsma and Erica Adachi as well as Dindin Santiago and Aby Marano to win the 2014 Grand Prix. The following season, Daquis and the Tri-Activ Spikers romped with a historic 13-0 sweep en route to winning the 2015 PSL All-Filipino crown and emerging as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

It was such a sweet victory.

We won 13 straight wins to win the All-Filipino. And I’m proud to say that it is also my jersey number.

Daquis suffered a hiccup the following conference when Petron surrendered the 2015 Grand Prix title to the surging Foton Tornadoes.

Army, which is carrying the banner of RC Cola, re-joined the PSL the following year and quickly re-acquired Daquis to win the 2016 Invitational Cup crown after knocking down the Thailand national juniors team.

I heard we are the first Filipino team to win over Thailand since 1993 (Singapore SEA Games). So yes, it’s also very special.

Daquis and the Lady Troopers appeared headed for another banner conference in the PSL All-Filipino Conference few months later when she was dealt with another heart-crushing setback.

The conference is already entering its crucial stretch and RC Cola-Army was fighting tooth and nail with a very strong Foton squad.

I was about to take off when I heard something snapped.

It was from my foot. I tore a muscle from my heel.

With the injury, the Lady Troopers surrendered to the Tornadoes and Daquis had to sit out the remainder of the season, leaving RC Cola-Army coach Kungfu Reyes scratching his head to figure how he can turn things around without his star gunner.

The problem is where we would get Rachel’s production of around 20 points a game. She is definitely our best scorer and we will surely be crippled without her.

RC Cola-Army closed the tournament with an overwhelming win over Petron in the classification battle for 3rd to 4th places.

Bouncing back

A veteran international campaigner, Daquis was acquired by Foton Pilipinas as guest player together with Aby Marano of F2 Logistics, Jen Reyes of Petron and her teammate Jovelyn Gonzaga to compete in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in Binan City from Sept. 3 to 11.

But her injury prompted her out to pull out her name from the pool in favor of a younger spiker, probably Cherry Rondina and EJ Laure.

For me, representing the country is such an honor.

But I take it as a challenge. I need to overcome this injury so I will be at my best for the FIVB tournament in October.

FIVB is a dream for any volleyball player. And I’m glad to be part of it to represent the country so I want to be in very good condition.

Yes, no. 13 is said to bring bad luck, sickness and death.

It is a dreaded number nobody would dare to touch.

But if you’re as hard working, passionate and dedicated as Daquis, there’s nothing to fear. The no. 13 is neither freaky nor unlucky. It all boils down to how you will manage to stand against adversities, to rise after every fall.

After all, nobody is in charge of our destiny but our own selves.