MANILA, Philippines – La Salle took out rival Ateneo to capture the UAAP women’s volleyball title for the second year in the row – only this time, there were close to 18,000 paying patrons to witness it live on Wednesday.
The support from volleyball fans have reached an incredible, record-setting high in season 75, but playing in front of such passionate crowd was a thrill and daunting experience at the same time for the Lady Spikers.
“Definitely the pressure was tremendous due to mammoth crowd and the expectation was high. But at least we’ve done our job well,” said head coach Rami De Jesus.
“Kaibahan lang (ngayon kaysa last year), maraming nanunuod. Nung time na yon, wala naman masyadong nanuod eh. Ngayon, nasa MOA kami. Talagang madaming gustong maka-witness ng mangyayari,” he added.
De Jesus, who clinched his eight title with La Salle and a second round of a three-peat, has actually been there long enough to see the extremes.
“Sobrang natutuwa ako kasi halos ka-batch lang kami ni Mozzy Ravena, pareho kami naka-witness kung pa’no nag-start volleyball dito. Dati, yung ticket pinamigay na eh wala pa gustong kumuha eh. Ngayon, wala ka na maibigay,” shared De Jesus.
On Wednesday, there were 17,268 paying patrons as the first ever championship in any sport was clinched inside Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The last time they met at the same venue in the elimination round, there were 19,638 spectators present.
The sudden leap from San Juan Arena, which was used in the past for volleyball events, to MOA Arena could be rattling as it is exciting.
But for finals MVP Michelle Gumabao, it energized the Lady Archers en route to a 25-23, 25-20, 25-16 win in game two and a sweep of the finals.
“It was very rewarding na andito lahat ng tao watching us play. Yung crowd iba naging effect sa’min ngayon,” said an ecstatic Gumabao, who was key in La Salle’s pivotal comeback win in game one.
“It’s a sweet (championship) because it was a three straight set win,” Gumabao added.
“Sweet (yung championship) kasi ito yung fruit of labor ng mga bata. Sobrang pinaghirapan nila. Magandang exit ’to sa dalawang senior players ko,” said de Jesus.
For the triumphant de Jesus, who also nailed his 190th win in the league, though, there is nothing sweeter than the very first time he put that first trophy to start his collection.
“Yung 1999 (title) siguro pinaka-sweet kasi yun yung unang una, dun mo mat-test kung para ka ba sa volleyball or hindi, kung may talent ka bang mag-coach o wala,” De Jesus said.