REIGNING PVL Reinforced Conference champion coach Rald Ricafort will now call the shots for the PLDT High Speed Hitters in the 2023 season.
The coach who recently led Petro Gazz to the import-laden conference has been tapped by the PLDT to replace George Pascua, management announced on Wednesday.
Ricafort spent the last four years with Petro Gazz, steering the Angels to their second Reinforced Conference crown in his first tournament in charge.
"I'm very grateful to Petro Gazz sa four years we spent there dahil natulungan nila kami to be the coach that we are today," Ricafort said.
The 34-year-old is also the head coach of University of the Philippines' men's volleyball team and an assistant coach of the Adamson women's volleyball team.
"We at PLDT are excited to work with a young champion coach in Coach Rald," said PLDT/SMART Head of Sports Jude Turcuato. "We know he can guide our players to the next level.
"We are always looking to improve and get the best out of our team," he continued.
PLDT's 'youth movement' convinced Ricafort to jump ship before the 2023 PVL Open Conference kick off on February 4.
"Sa binanggit sa akin ng PLDT na they want to have a youth movement beginning with the coach, yun din nakita ko na direction na dapat itakbo ng career ko. Tinake ko siya as the perfect opportunity to have a new environment," said Ricafort.
Also brought in by PLDT is Arnold Laniog, Ricafort's assistant coach in Petro Gazz.
Laniog is a champion in his own right, having guided College of Saint Benilde's men's volleyball team to the NCAA Season 92 crown and Petro Gazz to the 2019 Reinforced Conference title. He is also the De La Salle Green Spikers head coach.
"Having Coach Arnold is definitely a big help sa akin as I move to this new environment since kami rin naman yung magkasama all these years. With him around, there won't be much of an adjustment sa transition sa gusto nating mangyari sa team," said Ricafort.
"I'm very thankful na kasama ko siya rito."
The High Speed Hitters finished fifth in the Open Conference, fourth in the Invitational Conference, and sixth in the Reinforced Conference under Pascua.