When push came to shove for the Arellano University Chiefs in Game One of the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Finals, outside spiker Christian Dela Paz stepped into the limelight.
He might just be the “second best” among open hitters for the season, but in the Finals series opener, he played like the Most Valuable Player. For Dela Paz, it has always been the team and their ultimate goal: the title, and nothing else.
“Sunod lang sa sistema ni coach,” Dela Paz shared on what worked in that semifinals match. “Tsaka tulong-tulong lang talaga. Trabaho lang talaga. Training araw-araw, walang hinto.
“Kasi alam naming momentum na din namin itong taon na ‘to kaya hindi na namin pababayaan.”
That momentum of a win was carried into the Game One of the Finals despite the team needing to crawl back.
“Actually, walang nagbago sa game plan namin,” said the former UP Fighting Maroon of how they approached the match.
“Kumbaga kung ano lang ‘yung tine-training namin, kung ano lang pinapagawa ni coach, ginagawa lang namin.”
And the ace spiker was just happy that the “real” Arellano finally showed up.
“Yung buong team namin, nagtrabaho lang kami ng maayos. Tulong-tulong lang kami talaga. Walang star player, lahat nagtatrabaho kahit bench player o reserve player. Tsaka nagpapasalamat kami sa Arellano community,” the second-year Chief added.
Nonetheless, when someone needed to deliver in clutch, the outside hitter carried the fight for the Chiefs.
Dela Paz shared that winning the first-ever title for the school is what motivated him to pull through.
“Gusto kong gumawa ng history,” the 20-year-old stated. “Yung mag-champion ang Arellano. Hindi para sa sarili ko, kundi ‘yung para sa team ko.
“Gusto ko ‘yung sama-sama kami ng mag-celebrate, ‘di lang ako.”
With that date with history within reach, Dela Paz and the rest of the Chiefs will not leave anything to chance.
“Hindi na namin papabayaan. Sisiguraduhin na namin. Tatrabahuhin naming, titiyagain namin.”