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McClinton, Morales not giving up on RC Cola’s season

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The PSL Grand Prix has been challenging, to say the least, for the RC Cola-Air Force Raiders. After winning their opening match against Meralco, the Raiders dropped their following seven matches, most recently suffering a sweep at the hands of the Philips Gold Lady Slammers which took them out of the hunt for a semis seed.

The list of things that has caused lost their losses has grown as the season has wore on. The coaching staff has rued their lack of training prior to the competition especially with their locals who had attended to their military obligations. Lacking preparation, the team’s defense has suffered the most, with their lack of service reception and ball control consistently hampering their attack.

RC Cola’s imports, however, have been incredibly resilient, raising the level of the team as best as two players can. Middle blocker Lynda Morales has been a menacing force at the net, stifling opposing attackers with her staunch blocking while providing powerful quick and slide attacks when her team affords her a good look. Open hitter, Sara McClinton, on the other hand, has been the team’s most consistent scorer, breaking double-digits in all but two of their matches. McClinton and Morales make up one the top import pairs in the league stats-wise.

Having played in some of the toughest leagues internationally, both imports say that they’ve faced more challenging seasons. It’s just a matter of getting their teammates to play with their level of focus and energy.

Morales is a key member of the Puerto Rican National Team, a squad filled to the brim with Latina flare and passion. Just a few months ago, Morales and Puerto Rico played in a pressure-packed semifinal match in the FIVB World Grand Prix in Poland’s home territory. In front of a ruckus Polish crowd, Puerto Rico rallied together and fought off Poland’s overwhelming advantage. Despite losing in the end, Morales’ overwhelming drive was apparent throughout the match, celebrating every point and cheering her teammates on constantly.

“Compared to the leagues that I’ve played in I don’t think this is as high a level. I think it’s a little bit lower but we have some really good players within this league but the overall level. Like I’ve played in Brazil, in the Turkish leagues, and internationally in other competitions against some of the best teams in the world and I’ve always just tried to do everything I can to help my teammates,” said Morales.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times McClinton, Morales not giving up on RC Cola's season

Although there hasn’t been too many things to cheer about this RC’s season, Morales hopes her spirited aura can rub off on her teammates in their final matches. “That’s the kind of player I am. I’m always positive, I always try to have energy because I feel like volleyball is a game where you have to have that level. Someone on the team has to have that energy if you want to hopefully keep your teammates up. I hope that they take my energy and they give me something so we can all play happy. Because usually when you’re playing happy and you have energy you’re winning so that’s why I usually try to play with that.”

Sara McClinton was a part of multiple Kansas University Jayhawks squads that reached the NCAA tournament and flourished in the Big 12. Having won multiple individual awards throughout her collegiate career, McClinton earned a spot on the USA developmental team that battle other countries’ national teams annually in different tournaments.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times McClinton, Morales not giving up on RC Cola's season

“I guess a lot of our team’s problems have been mental. Every game we get someone stepping up. Once everyone’s on the same level, we should get better results,” McClinton said. “Me and Lynda come from backgrounds where we never give up. We’re emphasizing that to our Filipino teammates that we have to battle, we have to fight. We told them that we’re not ever giving up on you so they can’t give up on us.”

RC’s next match will be against the Foton Tornadoes later this afternoon.

Although they may not have a shot at making the semis, ending the season with wins would mean a lot to RC’s imports who both have made quite an impression on local fans.

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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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