The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) Blazers made history today, Feb. 7, as they outplayed defending champions University of Perpetual Help System Dalta (UPHSD) Altas (3-2) and bagged their first title in the Men’s Volleyball tournament in the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 92, held at The Arena, San Juan.
The crowd could not have asked for a better game as both teams brought everyone in attendance to the edges of their seats. Blazers’ Team Captain John Vic De Guzman led the team throughout the game with 28 points. Owen Bacani and Mark Deximo contributed 23 points combined.
The Taft squad started the match strong with a dominating 25-12 set victory that brought everyone to think the game was theirs. However, the defending champions did not end their season without putting up a fight. The Altas, who accumulated majority of their points from the Blazers’ errors, came out victorious in the second and third set (21-25, 17-25).
Photos by Alex Rico
Led by Rey Taneo, the Altas had momentum on their side coming in the fourth set. However, De Guzman proved why he is the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the league after scoring consecutive spikes and tip ins to rally Benilde back in the game. Finals MVP Isaiah Arda fueled the defensive energy during the set as the Blazers had a total of 55 blocks for the game. The green and white squad then dominated the fourth set to put themselves back in the game (25-14).
Coming in the deciding fifth set, the match was extended as both teams were in a head-to-head race. The Blazers, who trailed the Altas early on (12-7), came from behind with the help of De Guzman’s service aces and the team’s offensive rotations. Despite being down as much as five points, the Blazers trusted their offensive executions up until Arda’s tip in that scored the championship for Benilde.
“Sabi ko walang imposible. Pina-practice namin ‘yun. Iniisip lang namin na ia-apply mga [offensive rotations]. Magtiwala sa isa’t isa, sanay tayo sa ganito, nagpagod tayo sa ganito, nagsakripisyo tayo para dito, kukunin natin ito. Di natin hahayaan matapos ang araw na hindi natin makukuha ang [kampeonato],” De Guzman said in an interview with The Benildean.
Head Coach Arnold Laniog, who himself was a Benildean, mentioned this win is the biggest fulfilment ever since he left college.
“Pinaghirapan talaga, especially sa personal ko. Pag tungtong ko sa Benilde noong college, ito yung frustration ko na hindi talaga namin nakuha. Tapos noong nag-coach ako, there are a lot of times na nasa Finals ako pero di talaga nakuha. After 17 years ko sa CSB, nakuha na rin,” Laniog said.
The championship title is the first for Benilde since the College joined the tournament in 1998.