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Acaylar on coaching Men’s and Women’s volleyball

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There are few local volleyball personalities that as colorful University Perpetual Help Head Coach Sammy Acaylar, fewer are those who can boast the success he has had in handling both Men’s and Women’s programs.

The Cagayan De Oro native famously led the Altas to a four-peat while simultaneously nabbing a three-peat with the Lady Altas in the NCAA. He also rebuilt a struggling DLSU Spikers program, buoying the boys in Green to multiple UAAP Final Four appearances while he was there, earned titles in the PSL with Cignal’s Men’s and Women’s clubs, and manned the sidelines for the Philippine Women’s Senior National Team in the AVC Women’s Seniors Championship and the Cignal HD Spikers that represented the country in the AVC Men’s Club Championship.

Although he’s produced similar results in both fields, Acaylar admits that there is definitely a difference with his coaching approach with Men and Women.

“May difference talaga. Sa babae, kailangan may lambing talaga hindi pwedeng puro galit na lang kasi mas mabilis bumaba ‘yung morale nila. Kailangan lagi kang may pahabol na encouragement if pagagalitan mo para hindi masira ‘yung laro. Kapag lalake naman kahit gaano ako maglabas ng galit, kahit ano pang masabi ko, ayos lang. Hindi mabilis masisira ‘yung laro nila. Napansin ko kasi kapag lalake, hindi sila agad nagtatanim ng sama ng loob kapag may nasabi ka, mas gusto nilang makabawi at matuwa sa kanila si coach,” Acaylar explained.

In the ongoing NCAA Season 91, Acaylar admits that both his programs are at a crucial juncture after having been dethroned in both tournaments last year.

The Lady Altas went through major upheaval in the offseason with sudden personnel changes. Still with stalwarts Lourdes Clemente and Colleen Bravo patrolling the net, the Lady Altas have a solid chance at clinching a Final Four seed. With a 4-2 record and having faced off with the league’s three best teams (losses to AU and SSC and a win over CSB), they’re seeded fifth just behind LPU who has a 4-3 slate.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Acaylar on coaching Men’s and Women’s volleyball

“To be honest, I’m not completely satisfied with how we’re performing. I realize it’s my fault also because I only handled the team two months before the tournament because there was adjustments with the coaching staff that needed to be finalized. We’re a young team and it’s great that we can the Final Four. Pero, kung magcocontend talaga kami for a championship kailangan ko mahawakan nang mas matagal ‘yung team,” Acaylar reflected adding that the loss of his veteran setter really affected his team’s performance. “Bata pa ‘yung setter na ginagamit ko ngayon (Necelle Mae Guan), may mga sets pa siyang hindi natutunan na gusto kong magawa ng team. Mahilig kasi talaga ako sa mga fast and combination plays. Pero paunti-unti niya naman nagagawa ‘yun ngayon.”

The Altas, on the other hand, are undefeated through six matches and top the Men’s standings. With senior Bonjomar Castel and open hitter Ray Taneo Jr. propelling their offense, the Altas looked primed to take a Top Two seed and a twice-to-beat advantage heading into the Final Four. But they still have tough assignments ahead with the defending champs EAC Generals and Final Four aspirants San Beda Red Lions on their schedule.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Acaylar on coaching Men’s and Women’s volleyball

“Mas mataas talaga ang expectations ko sa Men’s team ko kasi halos buong taon ako nakatutok sa kanila. Kung sa skills lang, alam kong kaya namin, we just need to adjust mentally – bawasan pa ‘yung mga errors and communicate more inside the court,” said Acaylar who adds that he feels much more at home coaching Men’s volleyball. “Parang nailalabas ko ‘yung buong energy ko for volleyball kapag sa lalake ako nagcocoach. Nailalabas ko ‘yung gusto kong approach.”

Nevertheless, bringing championships to Las Pinas remains Acaylar’s priority, as what has been expected of him over the years.

“Ang Perpetual naman nakilala talaga sa volleyball, hindi naman sa basketball o sa ibang sport. Every year the administration looks to us to bring a championship in the second semester. Sa totoo lang, gusto ko ‘yung ganoong pressure kesa naman sa walang inaasahan sayo.”

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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