HEIGHT vs. heart is a cliche that is most played out in sports but yesterday’s Game 1 of the best-of-three men’s volleyball finals of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) was the stuff straight out of a sports cliche book. A much smaller University of San Jose-Recoletos defeated a bigger Southwestern University, 22-25, 25-14, 25-22, 25-20, at the University of San Carlos gym.
Head coach Grace Antigua admitted early on that size would be their biggest disadvantage but the Jaguars more than made up for it with aggressiveness.
“So far, we did well today,” said Antigua, who is looking to defend their men’s title in the collegiate league.
Despite the erratic play of Kent Jay Verbosidad, he and Alastair Ian Gairanod powered the USJ-R Spiking Jaguars to victory.
Verbosidad may have scored the most important points, including the winning crosscourt kill where he hit a powerful spike toward an unguarded spot in SWU’s side of the court, but Antigua knows he is capable of doing better.
“He has made some better shots at practice than in the game. If he could bring that into the game, then we stand a good chance of defending our title,” said Antigua.
SWU head coach Dave Arreza, on the other hand, admits his wards need to work on their confidence.
“We are capable of winning. My players have the skills. It is just that it is easy for them to lose confidence especially when the opposing team is leading. They become emotional so I need to boost that confidence right away so we could recover,” Arreza added.
While USJ-R is hoping to win back-to-back titles in the league, SWU hopes to redeem itself following last year’s loss to USJ-R, which spoiled their attempt at a three-peat.
Meanwhile, in the women’s side, SWU women’s team head coach Roy Ulan said he banked on the even scoring of his players to beat USJ-R, 26-24, 25-14, 16-25, 25-19.
Ulan said the glue that held the team together was setter Therese Ramas.
“She decides how the ball is distributed and that is important,” said Ulan.
SWU won the first two sets but USJ-R managed to stay alive after taking the third set. In the fourth, USJ-R was poised to take the match to a deciding fifth set after leading most of the way until Sheena Quino led an 8-2 run that sealed the team’s victory.
“I am just hoping that the next time we don’t lose endurance and we will not have any injuries come Game 2,” said Ulan.
Antigua, for her part, said her girls’ team needs to make quicker decisions and hopes they are able to make the changes in time for Game 2 next weekend.
Meanwhile, in the battle for third, both matches went the distance with the University of the Visayas winning the men’s third place title over Cebu Institute of Technology University, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 22-25, 15-9; and the University of Southern Philippines Foundation beating USC for the women’s third place, 20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 22-25, 15-13.