Lopez living the men’s finals vicariously
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 22, 2017 02:12 PM
Jessie Lopez, Philippine Air Force Jet Spikers’ multi-awarded setter, tremendously relishes watching the men’s best-of-three title series between the Mega Builders Volleyball Bolts and Cignal HD Spikers with son Lancelot Jacobo asleep in his arms and wife Khristine. (Photo by Chax Cabrera)
Used to being a finalist with Philippine Air Force in any Sports Vision-sponsored men’s volleyball tournament since 2015, brilliant setter Jessie Lopez, 31, has been thrust into the unfamiliar role of watching other teams contest the gold medal.
And seeing another player, his protégé actually, receive the best setter trophy in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
If anything, he’s genuinely enjoying the sudden switch of roles.
His heart was bursting with both joy and pride when the Santa Elena-sponsored Mega Builders hacked out a pulsating five-set win over favored Cignal to force a third, winner-take-all match in the men’s finals last August 16 that the HD Spikers eventually won.
After all, it has been head coach Dante Alinsunurin, his fellow Airmen, and he as his assistant who have patiently and painstakingly whipped the all-National University lineup making up Mega Builders into championship form.
“Right now I’m very proud of the present crop of NU Bulldogs,” said he, a back-to-back gold medalist when the Jet Setters swept the Open and Reinforced Conference championships of what proved to be the final year of Spikers’ Turf in 2016.
“Over the years that we’ve been together, more than three years actually, they have become sons to coach Dante and me. We’ve polished their raw power would like to think whipped them into championship shape. Their victories as much as their setbacks are ours to share.”
Immediately after the Volley Bolts squeaked past Game 1 winners Cignal HD Spikers to arrange a decider in their title series, Lopez was suffused with more pride and joy when Cignal’s Vince Mangulabnan, whom he had personally trained to become the setter that steered the NU Bulldogs to two straight titles in the UAAP, received the best setter trophy during the awarding ceremony.
It was the same recognition bestowed upon him two consecutive times during Air Force’s domination of Spikers’ Turf last year.
“As a setter myself, I’m glad that volleyball fans are now appreciating the position we play on our teams. I’m especially proud that we have a surfeit of outstanding young setters now.”