June 25, 2024

In Photos: Four volleyball championships in a week

In Photos: Four volleyball championships in a week
It was a wild week for volleyball with the Spikers' Turf, the PVL, and the UAAP. | Art by Megumi Taguchi/One Sports, photos by RM Chua

From May 10 to 15, volleyball fans were stuffed.

It was a tight schedule with four titles on the line--the championships for the 2024 Spikers' Turf Open Conference, the 2024 PVL All-Filipino Conference, as well as the men's and women's volleyball titles in UAAP Season 86.

Game 2 of the 2024 Spikers' Turf Open Conference between the Cignal HD Spikers and the Criss Cross King Crunchers took a scary turn in the decisive third set.

 

Jau Umandal leaped for a back row attack and collided with the descending elbow of Jude Garcia. The impact sent the Cignal spiker reeling and collapsed to the ground.

"Mulat mo lang," his teammates were heard saying as they kept saying Umandal's name. "Kami nang bahala, Jau."

 

Bryan Bagunas took matters into his own hands. Bazooka Bryan erupted for 22 points coming from 15 attacks, five blocks, and two aces--along with eight excellent receptions--to seal the best-of-three finals series.

 

The Cignal HD Spikers took Game 2, 25-23, 27-25, 25-21.

 

It was a triumphant moment for the defending champions, after taking down the newest Spikers' Turf squad, which is composed of their former teammates.

Two days later, the defending champions of the PVL All-Filipino Conference were also put to the test.

 

After suffering losses to the Chery Tiggo Crossovers, the Petro Gazz Angels, the PLDT High Speed Hitters, and for the first time to the Choco Mucho Flying Titans, the Creamline Cool Smashers had to dig deep.

 

In a poetic turn of events, it was Bea de Leon--the former captain of the Flying Titans--who delivered the championship point for the Cool Smashers against her previous team.

 

It also provided vindication for Best Setter Kyle Negrito, who has constantly received criticism on social media. And who else to provide validation than her predecessor Jia De Guzman?

 

From blue to pink, the Ateneo Blue Eagles of UAAP Season 77 has never looked better.

Three days later, Choco Mucho head coach Dante Alinsunurin Jr. found golden chance to redeem himself.

 

The National University Bulldogs beat the will out of the University of Sto. Tomas Golden Spikers in four sets, 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-15 to claim the UAAP Season 86 men's volleyball title.

 

It was a rare four-peat for the Bulldogs, tying the record for consecutive titles in the Final Four era. Ironically, the Golden Spikers were the first to achieve the feat from Seasons 70 to 74.

 

Alinsunurin has cemented his place in NU lore, helping deliver all six of the Bulldogs' championships in UAAP men's volleyball.

 

Game 2 of the Finals also delivered a sweet moment between the recently-graduated Finals MVP Owa Retamar and Season MVP Josh Ybañez.

Imagine the growth of Alas Pilipinas with this pair.

A few hours later, NU swept the UAAP volleyball championships when the Lady Bulldogs also took down the Golden Tigresses in four sets, 25-23, 23-25, 27-25, 25-16.

 

The Lady Bulldogs completed their redemption, after falling to the DLSU Lady Spikers last season.

 

Finals MVP Alyssa Solomon, under the tutelage of star NU product Jaja Santiago, went off with 27 points from 20 attacks, four blocks, and three aces.

 

But it was Bella Belen, the UAAP Season 86 MVP, who doused the fire of the Golden Tigresses.

With the UST crowd chanting, "MVP! MVP!" in Angge Poyos' return in the third frame, the actual season MVP took back the narrative and the extended set.

 

The entire season was a beautiful display of friendship between Belen and UST captain Bernadett Pepito.

Expect a Round 2 in Season 87.

Volleyball season is over for the leagues in the Philippines for now.

But really, volleyball never stops. Witness more action when Alas Pilipinas takes on the rest of the world in the AVC Challenge Cup.