Before the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals snared their first-ever NCAA men’s volleyball championship, there was one school that ruled the competition for four straight years. With marquee names like Reggie Espeleta, Jay Dela Cruz, Adam Daquer, and Ralph Diezmo, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas soared for four seasons.
In the ongoing season, the Perpetual Altas have remained unscathed and are very much on track to reclaim the title. Current Team Captain Bonjomar Castel believes that they can do just that. For him, their discipline on and off of the court is the main factor for the winning streak. He said, “Nakikinig lang kami sa sinasabi ng coaches.” And when it comes to training, “lagi kaming kumpleto.” He also added that they would reprimand members who does not attend a practice session.
On the court, Perpetual is one of the most dangerous squads to battle. Aside from Castel, fellow middle blocker Manuel Doliente can click anytime. Of course, they also have their reliable wing attackers in Rey Taneo, Dean Abcede, and Allan Sala-an. Any one of them can punish you with their powerful hits and smart placement shots. It is also notable that their libero Jack Kalingking is one of the best passers in the league, making it easy for the setter Warren Catipay to run a play. Castel summed it best: “Lahat nagcocontribute. Walang star sa min.”
In their last outing against the stubborn Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates, the Altas faced their toughest challenge yet. The Pirates, who had previously sent the defending champions Generals to their first loss, found themselves in the lead, 2 matches to 1, over Perpetual. After the game, Abcede shared that Head Coach Sammy Acaylar told them that the team should regain their focus. According to him, Coach Acaylar said, “’Wag masyadong kampante, kasi hindi basta-basta yung kalaban.” On his part, the outside hitter just played with his heart and with confidence as he helped his team overcome the Pirates in the last two sets and seal the win. Abcede’s burst further stressed the talent depth of the Altas.
Castel and Abcede are one in saying that much has changed for their team since last year. The skipper said, “Natuto kami. Mas marami ng gumagawa.” Abcede added, “Mas naging close kami. [At] naging wiser [sa court.]” The main reason for the turnaround is their determination to win back the crown. Castel emphasized it, “Gusto naming mabalik yung title.” Aware of what is ahead, Abcede noted what they should do in order to keep the streak going: “Huwag magpabaya. Discipline and hard work pa,” he said.
With three games left in the elimination round, the Perpetual Altas are virtually in the Final Four with their 6–0 record. It is not yet over, however, because the ultimate goal is to win the whole thing. “Championship – yun yung goal ng lahat,” Abcede ended.