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Doubt never crossed Janine Navarro’s mind



Few can relate to the mental pounding student-athletes go through over the course of a season.

The College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers were favorites to win the NCAA title going into this season. But after disheartening losses in the elimination round, including losses to Final Four contenders AU Lady Chiefs and SSC-R Lady Stags heading into the post-season, CSB looked set for a major let down.

Even so, graduating open hitter, Janine Navarro kept the faith and remained confident in her team.

“Kilala ko ‘yung teammates ko, alam kong wala sa kanilang susuko. Never din tumigil ‘yung coach namin sa pagpush. Kapag hindi tumitigil ‘yung coach, hindi rin titigil ‘yung players,” Navarro recalled.

“Wala kaming natalo sa mga nag Final Four. Nasa ilalim kami ng stepladder. Kapag nasa ganoong kababa ka na, wala ka nang choice kundi lumaban para maka-ahon.”

The Lady Blazers indeed persisted. Working off head coach Michael Cariño’s carefully crafted game plans, CSB fought off their elimination-round tormentors in convincing fashion. They first handled the Perpetual Help Lady Altas then swept the heavily-favored defending champs, AU Lady Chiefs to earn an elusive Finals ticket.

Faced with a daunting task of having to win thrice against the previously undefeated Lady Stags, CSB meticulously worked their height advantage and slowly deflated the morale of their proud opponents. After winning Game Two last Friday, the Lady Blazers need just one more win to bring home their school’s first volleyball championship.

Throughout their climb, Navarro has contributed steadily, playing arguably the best volleyball of her five-year collegiate career. With uncanny length and power in her hits, Navarro has reached double-digit point productions in all of CSB’s playoff matches.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Doubt never crossed Janine Navarro's mind

Faced with a daunting positional matchup in the Finals, Navarro has blossomed. Although fellow open hitter and reigning MVP Grethcel Soltones has outscored Navarro in both matches, Navarro converted a higher percentage of her attack attempts and received better support from her teammates.

Navarro says that there is no pressure with matching the point totals of her former Palarong Pambansa teammate as she knows CSB’s advantage lies in their depth and chemistry.

“Alam namin na karamihan talaga ng bola sa kanya (Soltones) mapupunta. Hindi ganoon sa amin, maraming kayang pumuntos. Matatangkad naman ‘yung blockers namin, magaling din ‘yung libero namin (Melanie Torres) so very confident kami na as a team, kaya talaga namin.”

The Dumaguete native also concedes that managing her emotions has been a challenge over the past few weeks.

“Siyempre hindi talagang pwedeng masyado kang masaya, hindi pwede mag-celebrate agad kasi may mga laro pa kami na kailangan ipanalo. Kahit ngayon one game na lang kami from championship, kailangan focused pa din. Hindi pwedeng magrelax,” said Navarro who remembered the past two seasons where they failed to make the Finals just because of the grandfathered NCAA playoff system where they went to quotients in the event of tied records.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Doubt never crossed Janine Navarro's mind

Navarro has always been confident in Benilde right from when she decided to play for the Taft-based squad after high school. Many people had wondered why she had chosen CSB when other more established volleyball programs had offered her scholarships.

“Alam ko talaga na gusto ko mag-aral sa Benilde. May mga tao na nagtataka kung bakit ako nag-Benilde. When I was looking for courses to take, nakita ko that Benilde had a very hands-on program so ginusto ko talaga pumunta dito,” told the Fashion Design and Merchandising Major.

“Never pang nanalo ang Benilde ng championship sa volleyball kaya gusto lang talaga namin masuklian ‘yung school na nagpapaaral sa amin ng trophy bago man lang kami gumaraduate.”

Navarro and the Lady Blazers can complete their historic run with a win on Tuesday, 4 p.m. at the FilOil Flying C Arena.


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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