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Led by math division head, Umingan wins PNVF U-18 title

The boys from Umingan with head coach Eusebio Solis (standing, fourth from left), Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Ramon “Tats” Suzara, and Akari’s Mozzy Ravena. PNVF
By Dugout Philippines

MANILA—Who would have thought a bunch of boys from the municipality of Umingan who’ve virtually never tasted the tough and rough action in the big city would emerge champions of the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) Under-18 Championships Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum?

And who would readily agree to the fact that their coach didn’t even get to play competitive volleyball at all—although he ran the 100, 200, and 400 meters of athletics in his elementary and high school days representing the Pangasinan town that sits on the border with Nueva Ecija?

Add to the mix that he doesn’t even teach Physical Education but is the head of Mathematics at the Umingan National High School.

“It’s tough, too tough, we’ve gone through much challenges,” said an ecstatic Eusebio Solis moments after he coached his team to a 25-23, 23-25, 23-25, 25-17, 16-14 pulsating come-from-behind win over VNS-Savouge to win the boys crown of the championships organized by the PNVF headed by Ramon “Tats” Suzara.

“But we proved something with this victory, that we, provincial teams, could stay in stride or even beat the strong teams from the big city,” added Solos, who admitted he did some arithmetic of sorts in figuring out how he could become a volleyball coach and teach the sport’s rudiments to kids despite his zero experience in the sport.

“I went to my mentors,” he said, keeping to himself who they were.

Provincial team Umingan is but these young Pangasinenses, all students of their town’s national high school and basically supported by their parents and Mayor Michael Cruz, are on their way to the Palarong Pambansa nationals in Cebu in July.

How they did it was another tough challenge.

The team traveled to Laoag City for the Palaro regionals and, as Pangasinan’s representative, beat Ilocos Norte for the right to represent the province in Cebu.

They then took a plane ride right after the match to catch their 5:30 p.m. semifinals match against Canossa Academy of Lipa City at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum. They were lucky enough that they flew trouble free and went on to clinch the ticket to the final in four sets.

“We got to Rizal Memorial at 3:30 p.m., enough for the team to recover and prepare for the semifinals,” Solis said.

University of Santo Tomas (UST), meanwhile, tamed National University, 25-17, 17-25, 25-20, 25-23, to capture the girls’ crown in the all-University Athletic Association of the Philippines team finale.

Kimberly Rubin led UST to the win and later went on to claim the girls’ Most Valuable Player trophy alongside the boys’ best player, Umingan’s Michael Angelo Fernandez, also the First Best Open Hitter awardee, who credits his high-leaping ability to competing in the long jump before he shifted to volleyball.

Rubin was also named the First Best Open Hitter with her teammates Avril Denise Bron (First Best Middle Blocker) and Lianne Penuliar (Second Best Middle Blocker) also making their marks to help UST cap a perfect championship run.

“Good job by the girls,” UST head coach Lerma Giron said. “All of them stand out in difficult times.”

The other awardees in the boys’ division were Luke Anton Macatangay (Second Best Open Hitter) of bronze medalist Canossa Academy, Roderick Medina (Best Opposite Hitter) of runner-up VNS-Savouge and Lawrence Lanting (Best Libero) of fourth-placer Angatleta Sports-Orion,Bataan,

In the girls’ division, completing the dream team were Althea Sumague (Second Best Open Hitter) of fourth-placer La Salle-Lipa, Jayrelle Mesa (Best Libero) of third-placer Kings’ Montessori School, Harlyn Serneche (Best Opposite Hitter) and Cheska Peñol (Best Setter) of runner-up NU.

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