MACKY CARIÑO is seeking to write another Cinderella story in NCAA women’s volleyball as he tries to bring the fourth-seed University of Perpetual Help to the Season 94 Finals this time.
Three years ago, Cariño was the coach of a College of Saint Benilde team that won the school’s first-ever indoor volleyball championship in historic fashion, rising from fourth place to beating Perpetual Help and Arellano in the stepladder semifinals before defying the thrice-to-beat San Sebastian volleybelles led by Grethcel Soltones to win the Season 91 supremacy.
Fast forward to present day, Cariño is just a win away from bringing Perpetual Help back to the Finals for the first time since Season 89.
“Isa na lang, isa na lang. Gagawa tayo ng history ulit,” said the strong-willed Cariño after their 25-23, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23 upset over twice-to-beat top seed St. Benilde in their Final Four showdown on Tuesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
The Lady Altas will try to complete the upset against the Lady Blazers on Tuesday, seeking to forge a best-of-three titular showdown with two-time reigning champions Arellano Lady Chiefs.
Back with Perpetual Help — the school that gave him a break in volleyball coaching and where he was an assistant to men’s team head coach and school athletic director Sammy Acaylar, Cariño hopes to deliver a historic season that would end a five-year title drought and bring back women’s volleyball glory to Las Piñas.
“Gagawa ako ng history sa babae naman, kasi sobrang tagal na rin, ilang taon na rin nawala sa championship,” said Cariño, who left St. Benilde before Season 93 started and transferred to Perpetual as women’s coach.
“Isang game na lang, abot kami ng Finals. Pagdating ng Finals, malay mo kami ang mag-champion, di ba? Walang imposible, basta gusto namin ang ginagawa namin,” he added.
From what he has done two years ago, Cariño is instilling to his wards, bannered by Cindy Imbo, Jenny Gaviola, Jowie Verzosa, Blanca Tripoli, Jhona Rosal and Necelle gual, the great desire to win.
“Mamimili lang tayo kung gusto ba nating manalo or ayaw nating manalo. Alam natin kung ano yung side na ayaw nating manalo, so wag nating gagawin. Gusto nating manalo, mag-trabaho tayo,” he said.
In fact, the Lady Altas coach prevented his wards from using their mobile phones to focus on their daunting series with Benilde.
“Pinag-focus ko talaga sila. Wala silang cellphone, lahat, walang social media, lahat-lahat. So wala tayong ibang gagawin,” Cariño shared. “Sabi ko sa kanila, kung gusto nating umabot ng Finals, aralin natin yun, focus doon tayo sa kalaban natin.”
“Tama rin yun kung paano ka naghanda, paano ka nag-prepara, paano ka nag-sakripisyo sa ginawa mo, maganda ang naging resulta,” he added.
It worked in the first game for the Lady Altas and Cariño is anticipating huge adjustments from rival coach Jerry Yee for the bounce back-seeking Lady Blazers.
With the momentum on their side heading into the do-or-die semis game for the last Finals berth, Cariño will continue to utilize his advantage: his familiarity of his former players from Benilde.
“Yung majority doon sa kabila, majority doon akin pa, napag-iwanan ko pa. Alam ko pa rin kung paano ko pinalakas yun,” Cariño said. “Advantage on our side because alam ko kung paano sila gumalaw. Alam ko kung paano din sila, parang bawian din namin pagdating sa mga plays namin sa kanila.”