The DLSU Green Spikers finally ended their two-game losing streak after dominating the UP Fighting Maroons during the bronze-medal match of the UAAP Season 84 Beach Volleyball tournament in straight sets, 21-17, 21-17, at Sands SM by the Bay earlier today, June 5.
It was not an easy trip to the podium for Green Spikers Noel Kampton, Vince Maglinao, and Andre Espejo, as Fighting Maroons Daniel Nicolas and Louis Gamban came prepared to counter the aggressive offense of DLSU. However, La Salle’s composure allowed them to subdue the Diliman-based squad. Maglinao tallied 15 points from 13 attacks and two service aces, while Kampton showed an equally impressive performance with 14 points from 12 attacks and two blocks.
Playing mind games
The Fighting Maroons opened the match on a high note, making the Green Spikers play a chasing game early in the set, 8-9. The teamwork of the Taft-based squad then ignited a powerful Maglinao spike to tie the game at 9-all. Since then, the Green Spikers never looked back in the opening set, pulling away from the Nicolas-Gamban duo to build a five-point lead, 17-12.
UP had to call an emergency timeout to recompose themselves and to end the scoring barrage of the surging Kampton and Maglinao. The much-needed break worked to UP’s advantage as they were able to rally two unanswered points. The Green Spikers used the same tactic of calling a timeout to ice the momentum of UP. The odds favored the duo wearing Green and White as it became a smoother sailing run toward the end of the set. Maglinao secured the first set with a vigorous off-the-block hit, 21-17.
Maglinao and Kampton showed more authority as they kicked off the second set. Off-the-block hits became instrumental for DLSU as they built an early advantage, 10-6. However, Nicolas stopped the bleeding with a down-the-line hit and a successful joust at the net against Kampton, 11-9. However, Kampton was quick to answer the challenge with yet another off-the-block hit against Nicolas, 12-9. As the Fighting Maroons tried to keep a close distance, errors haunted the Green Spikers during crucial parts of the set. The Gamban-Nicolas duo was able to cut the deficit to two, 18-16. Kampton and Maglinao immediately called for a timeout to plan their end game. Despite the misreceived service from Gamban, Kampton attacked the back-end line of the Fighting Maroons’ side to finally secure the set and the podium finish, 21-17, much to the delight of the fully packed Lasallian crowd.
Not as easy as it seems
Despite the lack of momentum coming into the battle for third—losing back-to-back against eventual champions UST Tiger Spikers during the elimination and semifinal matches—the Green Spikers showed great determination to come back stronger from their sixth-place finish in Season 82.
“Siyempre, unang-una, sobrang saya kasi alam namin na, last season, sixth place kami, dalawa lang ‘yung panalo. Going into [the] season, sabi namin, tiyagain lang natin, kuha muna tayo ng Final Four [slot]. And then noong nakapasok na namin ng Final Four, sabi namin, ‘Andito na tayo, [manalo] tayo ng medal para sa atin, para sa La Salle, para sa lahat,’” Maglinao expressed.
(First of all, we are so happy because we placed sixth last season with just two wins. And then, when we entered the Final Four, we said, “We’re here. Let’s get the medal for us, for La Salle, and for everyone.”)
Kampton confessed that they felt threatened ahead of the bronze medal match against the gutsy Fighting Maroons. “Natatakot kami sa UP, to be honest. Kahit na natalo namin sila sa eliminations, hindi kami kumpyansa pa.” He also left a heartfelt message to UP’s Louis Gamban, his close friend. “Sobrang galing nila, at props din kay Louis Gamban, sa former teammate ko. Nakita ko kung paano siya lumaban talaga. Proud na proud ako sa kanya.”
(We were scared of UP, to be honest. Even if we defeated them during the elimination round, we were not confident yet…They were great, and props to Louis Gamban, my former teammate. I saw how he fought hard and I am so proud of him.)
DLSU head coach Arnold Laniog was satisfied with his team’s performance despite the challenges they faced. He shared, “Well, in [the] short period of time na nakapag-prepare [kami]—‘yung one month—talagang nasulit namin. Compared sa mga kalaban namin na two years [or] three years na nakakasama, and regular player sa beach…unlike with us—player namin sa indoor, so nagcro-cross lang sila sa beach. So tingin ko, itong season na ito…mission accomplished na kami.”
(In the short time we prepared—in one month—we really made the most of our time. In comparison to our opponents who have two or three years of playing together and are regular beach volleyball players…our players are indoor volleyball players who crossed over to beach volleyball. So in my perspective, we already accomplished our mission for this season.)
The highly anticipated rookie Kampton made sure to leave a mark in the tournament as he was awarded Rookie of the Year. “To be honest, pumasok ako dito sa La Salle [at] sa Beach Volley[ball] na, kung ‘di ako manalo, okay lang kasi first time ko. Pero eto, nag-bronze ako. Ang bronze is, parang gold na rin. So next season, we’ll try to get the gold na; kung sa indoor or sa outdoor man ‘yan,” Kampton voiced out.
Both Maglinao and Kampton were beaming with gratitude toward all those who supported them. The former expressed, “To the Lasallian community, maraming, maraming salamat, sa support, sa prayers. At lalo na, salamat kay God na tinulungan kami at ginabayan kami.”
(To the Lasallian community, thank you so much for your support and prayers. Most of all, thank you to God for helping and guiding us.)
Kampton furthered, “Thank you, ‘di kayo nag-stop [na] pag-suportahin kami—since day one until now na last day namin. Sobrang thankful kami sa [Office of Sports Development] (OSD) namin, kay Ms. Grace, kay Ms. Joy, at lalong-lalo na kay Sir Nong, sa director namin. At sa [mga Physical Therapist] (PT) namin, kay PT Teddy na walang-sawa ng suporta sa amin, kay PT Sheila, kay PT Marco. Sa lahat, sa mga nagdri-drive sa amin, at especially sa mga coaches namin, sobrang thank you. Sa La Salle, sobrang sarap maging Lasalyano, sobrang sarap.”
(Thank you for continuously supporting us from day one until our last day in this tournament. We are extremely grateful to the OSD…especially Sir Nong, our director. To our PTs, to PT Teddy who never gets tired of supporting us…to the ones driving us, and especially to our coaches, thank you so much. It feels really good to be a Lasallian.)
After witnessing an impressive beach volleyball stint, supporters of the Green and White can surely expect that the DLSU Men’s Volleyball program would not disappoint in the future seasons.