NATIONAL University head coach Norman Miguel believes that it would've been a different story for the Lady Bulldogs had they been complete in their UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball campaign.
What if Risa Sato wasn't ruled ineligible this season due to academic deficiency? And rookie setter Joyme Cagande didn’t suffer a season-ending ACL injury in their first game?
Miguel, the rookie NU coach, stressed it’s not an excuse, but he imagined the possibilities if they played with a complete line-up that trained in Thailand.
“Actually yung team namin na nag-training sa Thailand, yun yung buo. Eventually narealize ko, kung ito yung team na naglaro ngayon ang laki laki ng chance talaga,” said Miguel after their 25-27, 17-25, 25-20, 16-25 loss to University of Santo Tomas on Saturday at the Arena in San Juan City.
“Pero siguro hindi siya talaga mangyayari kasi may reason nga di ba?” he added.
But there are no regrets for Miguel as he is still proud of how his rookie-laden team put up a gallant season despite all adversities, won four of their 14 games and gained respect with their promising talents.
“To be honest, iniisip naming coaches, wag lang kaming winless in two rounds,” Miguel said. “It happened na nanalo kami first win sobrang tumaas yung momentum na kaya pala ma increase namin yung ano nung game namin and madagdagan wins.”
“Achievement na ang four wins para sakin. Sobra sa ineexpect,” he added.
The Lady Bulldogs had a rocky journey this season. Miguel was tasked to replace former coach Babes Castillo with only two months prior to Season 81. Entering the post-Jaja Santiago era, seniors Jasmine Nabor, Jorelle Singh and Roma Doromal also skipped the year due to personal reasons.
Sato was declared ineligible weeks before the season and Cagande suffered the unfortunate knee injury.
Miguel admitted that they almost gave up, but the nine remaining players, led by top rookies Ivy Lacsina, Princess Robles and Jennifer Nierva, showed might and proved that they belong winning four games, highlighted by a season sweep on pre-season favorite University of the Philippines.
“Ang daming reasons para gumive up pero hindi. Eto kami nagsama sama, nagstay put,” Miguel said. “Those are the things that we have to be thankful for na marami kaming natutunan sa journey na ito.”
From all the promising talents they showed this season, Miguel insisted that they shouldn’t be contented for morale wins and Season 82 begins right away for them with only one player graduating Roselyn Doria.
“Nag usap usap kami kanina, today we ended the season 81 but technically tomorrow we start the season 82. Move on na,” Miguel said.
“Yung advice ko rin sila lalo na sa rookies yung four years na nagchampion sila, they’ve been so magical pero narecord na yun sa story book,” he added. “So this time magcecreate ulit ng bagong magic para sa college team naman namin.”