The DLSU Green Spikers started their return to the UAAP Men’s Beach Volleyball tournament earlier today with two wins—outlasting the NU Bulldogs in three sets, 12-21, 21-15, and 15-11, and the UP Fighting Maroons in two, 21-19, 21-11, at Sands SM By the Bay. Representing the Green-and White were rookie Noel Kampton, Vince Maglinao, and Andre Espejo.
Heading into this season’s beach volleyball tourney, the Green Spikers have had their fair share of disappointments playing in the sand—specifically Season 82’s three-game losing streak on opening day and a sixth-place finish in Season 81. For the longest time, La Salle’s men’s volleyball program has been in its rebuilding stage—failing to reach the Final Four for over a decade. With attempts of changing the program’s culture, the Green-and-White recruited rookie superstar Kampton, who had experience playing in the ASEAN School Games back in 2017 and in 2018.
Today, fans finally caught a glimpse of the Green Spikers’ efforts of building a winning culture, and it is safe to say that the future seems bright.
Answering the call
Prior to today’s set of matches, Kampton previously admitted that the Green Spikers experienced hiccups in preparing for the sudden tournament, “We are kind of late sa preparation pero nag double time kami.”
Despite this, the Taft-based squad successfully handled the tough tandem of NU Bulldogs Pol Salvador and James Buytrago. The Green Spikers started off slow and dropped their first set in forgettable fashion, 12-21. Down a set, DLSU showed their grit and took the second frame, 21-15, to force a decisive third, which they won in a back-and-forth affair, 15-11.
Maglinao shared his joyful sentiments on outlasting their opponents in today’s tough matchup, “Siguro itong game na ‘to, sobrang saya namin kasi nanalo kami despite [the fact that] very short lang ‘yung training namin. Pero hindi namin pwedeng sisihin ‘yung short na training eh. Kailangan talaga, every training day, mina-maximize namin, pinipilit namin mag-improve every day.”
(We are just extremely happy after this game despite training for a short period of time. However, we cannot use our short preparation for the tournament as an excuse. We must maximize every training session, while motivating ourselves to improve every day.)
Hitting their stride
After winning a close opening match, the Green Spikers aimed to finish the day on a high note against the UP Fighting Maroons, bannered by Louis Gambao and Daniel Nicolas.
DLSU held the Diliman-based squad at arm’s length during the first set, 21-19. However, the second set was a different story. To cap off today’s fixtures with a dominant match, the Green Spikers jumped to a quick 9-1 advantage—showcased by Kampton’s impressive service aces and impeccable teamwork with Maglinao in defending UP’s attacks.
Kampton continued his stellar performance by towering over UP’s blockers and joining Maglinao’s hustle to receive the ball, building a comfortable 16-7 lead late in the set. The Fighting Maroons tried their best to repel DLSU’s rhythm, with Gambao and Nicolas each scoring to pull closer, 16-10, but it was Kampton and Maglinao’s teamwork that prevailed. The duo from Taft orchestrated a 4-1 run that was capped with another service ace from Kampton, ultimately winning the set and match, 21-11, for a flawless 2-0 start to the season.
The road ahead
Despite their two victories, Kampton is not staying complacent, “Ngayon, sobrang happy ako. Pero ‘di pa ako sobrang happy talaga, kasi marami pang games, marami pa kaming pagdadaanan. Knowing lahat ng other teams, nag-tratraining sila ng matagal. Kami, late.”
(I’m not yet completely happy because there are still a lot of games, a lot of things we’ll have to go through—knowing that all the other teams have been training for a long time, while we started training late.)
Maglinao shared similar sentiments, also mentioning that they have weaknesses that need to be addressed, “Skillswise, we need to improve on sa service namin. First game [and] second game, sobrang dami namin tinatapon na error.”
(…we committed a lot of errors.)
After seeing no action for more than two years, the Green Spikers were proud to finally represent La Salle. Debuting as a rookie, Kampton admitted that he is still adjusting to carrying a new banner, “Naninibago pa ako, because I’m from Perpetual…[but La Salle’s] Green-and-White—it fits me well talaga. Sobrang saya maging Lasallian.”
(I’m still getting used to it because I’m from Perpetual, [but La Salle’s] Green-and-White really fits me well. It’s extremely fun to be a Lasallian.)
Meanwhile, Espejo believes that donning a reputable jersey is beyond the school’s colors, “For me, playing for La Salle is not playing for my last name, it is playing [for the name of our] school.”
After staying spotless today, the DLSU Green Spikers will look to build on their momentum in matches against the ADMU Blue Eagles and the FEU Tamaraws at Sands SM By the Bay tomorrow, May 28, at 11 am and 3 pm, respectively.