Long, hard road ends with first title for Water Defenders

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 17, 2017 11:07 AM
Long, hard road ends with first title for Water Defenders
DELAYED GRATIFICATION. Spiker Grethcel Soltones and setter Jasmin Nabor played key roles in BaliPure's first-ever championship.

For the first time since entering the league in 2016, BaliPure can call itself champion.

Just three weeks ago, no one could have seen that coming – not even the Water Defenders themselves.

“Yung pinagdaanan namin, iba e,” head coach Roger Gorayeb told reporters after he and his girls swept the championship series against rival Pocari Sweat last Wednesday.

“Before the tournament started, ang daming kumakausap sa mga bata para lumipat. Tapos nung nag-umpisa na kami, we almost didn’t make it to the semis,” he then went on to share. “We almost na nakipag-playoff (for a semifinals spot). Pagpasok ng semis, we lost the first game and again, we almost didn’t make it to the Finals.”

Indeed, towards the end of the elimination round, BaliPure looked like it was way behind the top three teams in the standings in Creamline, Pocari Sweat, and Philippine Air Force.

With a 3-3 record heading into their last assignment, they were knotted with BanKo-Perlas for the fourth and final playoff berth.

The Perlas Spikers proceeded to lose their final outing, but to officially make the Final Four, the Water Defenders still had to go through their rival Lady Warriors.

They did nothing but take care of business then, shockingly sweeping Pocari Sweat and surely seizing the fourth and final playoff berth. “The girls persevered. Pagdating na ngayon, it’s a different story,” Gorayeb said, looking back at their long, hard trek to the top.

He then continued, “Iba na yung character namin.”

All the tough tests they had to pass only made this first-ever title even sweeter for BaliPure. “Masaya, siyempre kasi pinaghirapan namin as a team. As a team, marami kaming pinagdaanan,” top hitter Grethcel Soltones said.

Along with facing their challenges on the traflex itself, Soltones and company also had to juggle their other commitments along with playing. As she put it, “Hindi rin biro yung napagdaanan namin kasi eskwela tapos training tapos training din sa ibang school.”

As per Gorayeb, all but one of his 12 players is still in college.

And through it all, it’s also the head coach who is keeping the focus on-point and the confidence high for his girls. “Si coach, siya lang yung nagbu-boost sa amin na kaya namin as a team. Siyempre kami, bata kami, mabilis kami ma-down so inaangan niya kami lagi,” Soltones shared.

She then continued, “Sinasabi niya, ‘Ayan, matatanda lang yan, pero kayang-kaya niyo yan.’”


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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