Volleyball Never Stops partners with Café Lupe
ABS-CBN Sports on May 22, 2017 06:03 PM
Café Lupe is the new kid on the block in the inaugural staging of the Premier Volleyball League, riding high on its players’ unusual passion for volleyball.
Indeed, volleyball never stops at least for this band of athletes who call themselves that – Volleyball Never Stops or VNS.
VNS is an association of former team captains who, after graduating from the UAAP or the NCAA, are not prepared yet to quit the sport. They have to continue playing much like a coffee drinker has to have his daily dose of caffeine.
To do that they organized VNS in 2013. Since then more UAAP and NCAA graduates, not necessarily team captains, have been welcomed into the fold. Since then they have been meeting regularly for friendlies on weekends, even on weekdays after work. Or they go into serious training whenever they are invited to participate in minor tournaments wherever.
Their big break came in 2016 when Sports Vision, the outfit behind the hugely successful V League, invited them to the second season of Spikers’ Turf, a groundbreaking competition in men’s volleyball launched in 2015. The VNS people, mostly Mapua alumni, donned the colors of Bounty Fresh in the season-opening Open Conference won by the Philippine Air Force Jet Spikers.
For the season-sending Reinforced Conference of Spikers’ Turf also dominated by Philippine Air Force, the VNS folk reappeared carrying the name of their sponsor, 100 Plus.
Neither Bounty Fresh nor 100 Plus won a single match in the now defunct Spikers’ Turf, although both always put up a gallant fight before losing. That VNS was invited yet again by Sports Vision to take part in the inaugural staging this year of Premier Volleyball League, floored John Pat de Guzman, a former Mapua player and one of the founders of VNS.
“We were humbled by the invitation of Sports Vision that we join the PVL,” said de Guzman, who at once held a series of open tryouts in February and March to reinforce the VNS squad with new and younger blood while at the same scouting for corporate sponsors.
“We are privileged and honored to be a part of the very first roster of teams in the PVL, an even grander tournament, I must say, in that it incorporates the features of the very successful V League and the ambitious Spikers’ Turf.”
Many joined the tryouts but the hunt for a commercial sponsor drew a blank.
Another kindred spirit who shares VNS’ passion and vision for the sport came to their rescue in the person of Café Lupe owner Albright Caranza, 28.
With the profusion of talents in the tryouts, the new VNS team named Café Lupe carries only four carryovers – Ralph Ocampo, Joshua Barrica, Jay Chua, and Julius Sioson -- from its previous lineups.
“The rest of our team,” said de Guzman, who sits as coach now, “are quite a find. They are taller and younger and exceptionally skilled. We are a lot more competitive now.”
A remarkable addition to the team is Jahir Ebrahim, 20, a discovery by San Sebastian College from Talitay, Maguindanao Province. Ebrahim, a business management student, exploded for 17 points in the Sunrisers’ heartbreaking five-set loss to the highly favored Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls after leading by two sets to none.
“My present team is very promising,” said de Guzman. “We will not get it easily, but we will get there. We will work hard for it.”
The quiet Café Lupe coach puts a lot of stock in the six-footers in his lineup, notably Kevin Liberato of Adamson University, six-foot-five Raje Hizon of Mapua, Manuel Dollente of Perpetual Help College, and James Reolalas of St. Louis University in Baguio City.