Despite having a driven and competitive roster for the past couple of seasons, Generika-Ayala found it hard to crack the code for a championship run in the Philippine Superliga.
But the Lifesavers may have found the key to unlock the door to success in Rhea Dimaculangan.
Dimaculangan — one of the best setters in the local volleyball scene — made her way to Generika-Ayala’s fold at the start of the year. And she has already embraced the daunting task of helping the team reach greater heights.
“Masaya at nakaka-proud kasi bagong team, bagong teammates,” said the UST product.
“Actually may challenge, pero ‘yung challenge na ‘yun ine-embrace ko lang and ine-enjoy ko lang.”
That ‘challenge’ she referred to was the lofty role of team captain.
It was a no-brainer decision for Generika-Ayala upon acquiring a proven and tested playmaker like Dimaculangan, who steered Petron to the promised land on multiple occasions. But admittedly, taking on the mantle of leadership was no easy decision on her end.
“Actually kasi every time na ina-appoint ako as team captain, palagi akong tumatanggi kasi parang feeling ko na hindi ko kaya, o pangdagdag ‘yun na iisipin ko pa,” the perennial national team campaigner confessed. “Kasi siyempre, as a setter, ikaw ‘yung mag-iisip kung ano ‘yung play, kung ano ‘yung diksarte during game. So parang ‘yun, iniiwasan ko madagdagan.
“Pero ngayon na parang, ‘Hindi, ikaw dapat ‘yung dapat maging team captain, ikaw dapat ang maging team captain. Gusto ko ikaw ilagay diyan,'” she added.
“So ine-embrace ko na lang siya unti-unti hanggang sa nasanay naman ako. Hindi naman pala siya mahirap gawin, kaya naman pala.”
What eased Dimacalungan’s transition to the captaincy role in Generika-Ayala is the full support given by her coaches and teammates, Ria Meneses and Angeli Araneta in particular.
“Hindi naman din siya masyadong mahirap kasi nandiyan namin sila Ria at si Neta para i-guide din ako kasi siyempre ako ‘yung bago sa team,” shared the 5-foot-7 Batangas-native, who has won four PSL championships.
“And ‘yung pressure na ano nila coach, ‘yun sinasabi nila sa akin na, ‘No pressure. Nilagay kita diyan kasi andiyan ka to lead the team, para ikaw ‘yung maging example. Pero ‘di kita pine-pressure. Basta laruin mo lang laro mo.'”
Dimaculangan made her Generika-Ayala debut in the 2020 PSL Imus City Mayor Maliksi Super Cup: Spike for a Cause. There, the Lifesavers showed a glimpse of their potential, although they came up winless in three matches. Needless to say, she was able to gauge the capabilities of the team and test out their chemistry.
“Actually parang naging advantage rin siya kasi habang maaga pa, nakita namin ‘yung mga lapses ng bawat isa. Tapos nakita rin nila coach kung ano ‘yung mga dapat i-improve. And parang nag-adjust din lahat kasi ‘yung system din ni coach parang hindi basta-basta na kayang ma-adapt din kaagad,” she opined.
And that early acid test will undeniably be of huge help for Dimaculangan and the Lifesavers while they vie for a successful campaign when the league raises its curtains on February 29.
“Siyempre ‘yung goal namin ay makapasok sa Finals pero si coach, ang gusto niyang mindset namin is every game, ‘yun muna ang goal namin hanggang sa marating namin ‘yung Final Four hanggang marating namin ‘yung Finals, and then ‘yung championship,” she disclosed.
“So parang one game at a time kami. Kung anong ‘yung meron, ‘yun muna. ‘Wag muna kami mag-isip na gusto namin mag-Finals, gan’un. Every game, paghihirapan namin.”