NT displays selfless act

Tuesday, 01 Aug 2017
Julius Manicad - Chief Correspondent - @JCManicad

OSAKA, Japan — The match had ended and the national women’s volleyball team was savoring the sweetness of its victory in a friendly match with the Osaka Superiors.

Head coach Francis Vicente gathered the troops to blurt an important question: Do you want to see the stats?

Everybody said “no.”

They’re not interested.

Personal glory doesn’t mean anything to them.

And it left Vicente very impressed.

“Actually, I was just testing them. I’m glad that they passed my test.”
“It’s good that this collection of superstars is now working as one team. Their respective roles are now getting more defined and the chemistry is slowly being developed. This camp helps us a lot in harnessing our friendship and unity on and off the court.”

Great chemistry

The 25-21, 28-26, 25-19 victory over the Superiors is a testament to the great chemistry developed by the Nationals.

Jaja Santiago again bannered the scoring parade with 10 kills, three blocks and an ace for 14 points while Jovelyn Gonzaga chipped in six kills and three aces for nine points for the national squad, which is bracing for the AVC Asian Senior Women’s Championship and the Southeast Asian Games.

Kim Fajardo was also impressive turning in 25 excellent sets as well as open hitters Alyssa Valdez and Frances Molina, who delivered eight and six markers, respectively.

But what keyed the win wasn’t their personal numbers.

It was their collective effort.

Gen Casugod, Mika Reyes and Aby Marano served as strong forces to be reckoned with at the net while the backline defense of Dawn Macandili and Denise Lazaro were on point.

Kim Dy, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Maika Ortiz and Rhea Dimaculangan also had their shining moment as they churned out quality minutes for this star-studded squad.

It was the second straight win by the Nationals here after suffering a string of losses to Okayama Seagulls in the first leg of this grueling training camp.

Friendship

Vicente, in fairness, should be credited for molding these stars in a solid, fighting unit.

He surprised them by shuffling the room assignment, making sure that everybody will get to spend quality time with teammates who could squeeze out the best in them.

For instance, shy and quiet Casugod was assigned to room with a fierce competitor in Marano while former SEA Games Most Valuable Player Nene Chavez was tasked to teach team captain Reyes a thing or two about leadership, volleyball, family and life in general during quiet nights.

La Salle stalwart Kim Dy also greatly matured, thanks to the friendship she developed with former Ateneo superstar Lazaro for the past 16 days.

Aside from the room assignment, Vicente also tasked the team to have some simple off-court chores like carrying the icebox, mopping the floor and even serving as lines officials in friendly matches.

“These players will be playing together for the next three years, so it’s crucial that they develop friendship and camaraderie this early. They have to treat each other like sisters on and off the court.”

Vicente reiterated that he’s glad over his wards’ refusal to see their personal numbers following a great victory.

They passed his test.

They proved that there’s no “I” in “Team.”