National University’s management has learned the hard way that it takes years to mold and develop a women’s volleyball team that would yield the results they wanted.
The Lady Bulldogs for the past six years gambled with coaching changes that saw the squad play under five different mentors. Yet the outcome were the same: NU season after season came away empty-handed in the UAAP.
When NU approached Norman Miguel and laid out a long-term program, the Lady Bulldogs seemed to be looking at the right direction this time.
“Well, actually, when the sports director approached me, nu’ng in-explain niya sa akin ‘yung parang long-term program doon parang medyo na-open ‘yung mind ko na it’s very challenging pero why not accept it,” said Miguel, who was took the reins after former coach Babes Castillo parted ways with NU.
Castillo handled the Lady Bulldogs last year as a replacement for Roger Gorayeb, who was with the team for two seasons and a half.
Under Castillo, NU made a strong run in the first round of UAAP Season 80 after winning six of their first seven games in 6-foot-5 star Jaja Santiago’s swan song. But their campaign turned sour as the squad managed to win only one game in the second round to land at no. 4 seed in the Final Four and eventually bowed down to grand slam champion De La Salle University.
Overall, NU saw its women’s team switch hands from one coach to another. Francis Vicente steered the Lady Bulldogs to a Final Four stint in Season 75 but received the boot the following year and was replaced by Edjet Mabbayad, whose short stint will be always be remembered as Ateneo de Manila University’s second to the last step before claiming its breakthrough title in Season 76.
Dong Dela Cruz took over Mabbayad’s position in Season 77 but was replaced by Gorayeb halfway into the season. Gorayeb left the Lady Bulldogs after NU failed to reach the semis for two straight years.
“Alam naman nating lahat na ‘yung NU women’s parang looking forward to you know bag a title sa UAAP kasi hanggang ngayon medyo wala pa talaga,” said Miguel, who handled DLSU’s men’s team last season.
“So parang ‘yun yung pumasok sa mind ko na malaking challenge siya pero masarap trabahuhin di ba?” he added.
However, Miguel will have a young roster to work with.
Rookies Princess Robles, Joyme Cagande, Ivy Lacsina and Jennifer Nierva show a lot of promise. Holdovers Roselyn Doria, Risa Sato and Audrey Paran will return while Rica Diolan is back in the fold after skipping two seasons.
Miguel said that the NU management set a realistic goal this season, just one step at a time.
“Naniwala ako doon sa gusto nilang mangyari not this year, probably next year or at the third year parang ganun na kailangan na meron nang mangyari (championship),” he said.
There’s no short cut to success and NU this time is willing to take a long drive to the promised land.
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