The game was tight and RC Cola-Army was keeping a razor-thin edge over Foton.
It was a highly-crucial match and the Lady Troopers are eager to gain redemption following back-to-back setbacks to F2 Logistics. Another loss to the young and aggressive Tornadoes will not only extend RC Cola-Army’s losing streak, but will also create a serious dent on its bid to win another crown in the Philippine Superliga (PSL).
Foton has the firepower.
Up front are skyscraper Jaja Santiago, Maika Ortiz and Angeli Araneta while Cherry Rondina, EJ Laure and Patty Jane Orendain provide the explosion from the wings with veteran Rhea Dimaculangan setting the plays.
On the other hand, RC Cola-Army has the experience.
The Lady Troopers are a force to be reckoned with after winning the league’s three straight titles before taking a three-conference leave. When they came back, they ruled the PSL anew as they dominated the Thailand national team B to conquer the pre-season Invitational Conference.
Although RC Cola-Army already has a lot of mileage on its legs, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Honey Royse Tubino, Tina Salak and Nene Bautista still manage to keep it afloat to remain one of the elite clubs in the country today.
Its top gun is Rachel Anne Daquis.
Brandishing a combination of beauty and power, the 28-year old Daquis is such a prolific scorer who can score with authority. She is a proven winner who was part of Petron’s historic 13-0 sweep of the 2015 PSL All-Filipino Conference and saw action in a pair of Asian club tournaments, Southeast Asian Games and an invitational tourney in Thailand.
This year, she was drafted by Foton to compete in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship in September and is part of the seven-man local crew dubbed as the “Magnificent 7” that will march to the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship in October.
Simply put, Daquis is the face of Philippine volleyball.
She is a national treasurer.
She is an important piece in RC Cola-Army’s surge to another title.
But in a strange twist of fate, something unexpected happened.
With action in the first set heating up, Daquis received a very beautiful set play by Salak. The blockers, Santiago and Araneta, were prepared to launch a solid blockade on Gonzaga from the opposite, leaving Daquis wide open to launch a booming smash for an easy point for the Lady Troopers.
As Salak tossed the ball up high, Daquis launched her patented bunny hop. Her eyes were on the ball; but her mind was on the easy point.
Suddenly as Daquis stepped her left foot to formally take off, something snapped. Her knees folded like a twisted metal and her torso fell like a freshly-cut log in the forest. She was there, lying on the taraflex. The jampacked La Salle Lipa Sentrum was suddenly silent; it was so quiet that you can actually hear her heart pounding.
The game stopped.
She was wincing in pain.
Her left foot looked bad.
And in one snap of a foot, the future of RC Cola in this conference, the fate of Philippine volleyball in the AVC and FIVB tourneys, hang in great danger.
Sustaining injury is terrifying for any elite athlete, especially volleyball players.
Angeli Tabaquero of Foton, for one, sustained a dislocated shoulder last year before being hyperextended again while playing as defense specialist in the PSL Invitational Cup last March. She went under the knife and is now approaching her third month of post-operation.
Although she is about to start her strength and conditioning training after getting the green light form her surgeon, the long absence is too much, too bitter for a competitive athlete to bear.
Tabaquero said the physical pain brought by her damaged shoulder is nothing to the mental and emotional suffering it brings. But somehow, it teaches her to be strong, to fight through adversity and became a stronger, even better athlete.
[quote]Any athlete will surely be depressed whenever he or she gets injured.
As for me, I was affected only for several days. After that, I started to accept it. This is my second major injury after getting an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction in college, so I pretty much know how to handle it and stay positive despite everything.
I hate the feeling of seeing your team competing and you can’t do anything to help because you’re hurt. You miss the intensity and adrenaline rush, the celebration and the teamwork. I hate the feeling of being just there, watching at the sidelines with nothing to contribute but moral support.[/quote]
How much more for somebody like Daquis?
[quote]I practically grew up on the volleyball court so the mere fact that I’m about to miss some games kills me.[/quote]
Daquis said she instantly knew something was wrong after feeling a stinging pain on her left foot. She immediately reached out to team therapist Paula Alyssa Tomas for medication, but the unbearable pain was still there.
She removed her shoes, sat out and never returned again. At one point, during change of court, she was seen limping and had to hold on the arms of assistant coach Rico de Guzman just to move from one bench to another.
It was such a heart-breaking sight: One of the country’s best, and loveliest, players wincing in pain, treating every step like a miracle because she doesn’t have the power, the strength to put pressure on her heel.
In the end, RC Cola-Army surrendered to Foton, 18-25, 25-15, 25-17, 23-25, 15-9.
Two nights later, with Daquis reduced into a mere spectator, the Lady Troopers lost again, this time, to Petron, 19-25, 22-25, 16-25.
Suddenly, the once mighty Lady Troopers look shaky.
What started to be a dream season is slowly turning into a nightmare.
[quote]The greatest fear of any athlete is to see your team being crushed by the opponent.
I just hope this injury heals as soon as possible so I can get back stronger and better in case we advance all the way to the PSL finals.[/quote]
Wonder of medicine
In dire need of an instant solution, Daquis reached out to noted sports rehabilitation expert Dr. Isagani Leal of the Center for Musculoskeletal Science-Asia in Quezon City.
Leal is no ordinary surgeon.
With some of the country’s prominent athletes like Jayson Castro of Talk ‘N Text, Jeric Teng of Rain or Shine, Meralco Bolts, the Philippine Azkals and Olympic boxer Mark Anthony Barriga as clients, Leal treats his patients with their own blood using the Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy.
In this unique, non-surgical treatment method, blood is extracted from a patient and placed in a centrifuge that isolates platelet-rich plasma with growth factors. Then, using ultrasound, Leal re-injects the plasma on the damaged portion – in Daquis’ case on her torn plantar aponeurosis or the thick connective tissue that supports the arch on the bottom of the foot.
Injecting this plasma on the injured muscle is said to expedite tissue growth and cell regeneration, making the patient recover through method or without undergoing surgery.
Athletes first discovered the wonder of this PRP Therapy in 2008 during the buildup for the Beijing Olympics. Since then, super athletes like Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal have been using this recovery method routinely as if they discovered the fountain of youth.
A stretching and strengthening program for two weeks after the PRP Therapy can whip the athlete back into fighting form before completely regaining his or her full strength in five to six weeks.
It was the Israeli army that pioneered the use of PRP Therapy to treat its injured soldiers. Knowing that surgery requires a longer time to heal, Israeli doctors trooped to the laboratory and used the own blood of the soldiers to treat their wounds.
Leal was a Department of Health scholar in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Medicine at Tel Aviv University. He still goes to Israel from time to time to update himself on the latest developments in his field of expertise.
Tabaquero also underwent PRP Therapy and can attest to its effectiveness.
[quote]PRP is okay; I mean, the procedure itself.
But it still depends on how you continue it after treatment; the post-procedure care like going to therapy ad strengthening. It still depends on how you will take care of yourself and stand through the challenges of your injury.[/quote]
Road to recovery
Daquis said she is working doubly hard to regain her strength, the deadly form which made her one of the best players in the country today.
Although she was required to wear a walking boot, there’s no available timetable for her return. However, her left foot is slowly regaining its strength and it will surely not take long before she can play again – stronger and better than before.
[quote]I just had my PRP Therapy and I’m feeling great.
I am taking a rest Wednesday, but I will undergo laser treatment on Thursday to expedite the healing process. Hopefully, I will be back in time for the finals if ever we make it. That’s my goal.[/quote]
She said it was her teammates and her bid to win another crown that motivate her to fast track her progress.
After all, the previous All-Filipino Conference had been fruitful to her as she won a title with Petron while claiming the Most Valuable Player award.
[quote]It was one of the highest points of my career.
Seeing my teammates compete without me is such a torture. That’s why I’m doing my best to get back in shape. I don’t want them to show them that I’m weak. I don’t want them to get demoralized by this injury. I will do my best to regain my competitive form and help (RC Cola-Army) win another title.[/quote]
Daquis suddenly excused herself.
She still has to undergo another round of PRP Therapy.
The road to recovery may be bumpy and rocky.
But Daquis is enjoying the ride, smiling while fighting through the pain.
That’s the kind of stuff legends are made of.