Excitement filled the gymnasium of Bangued East Elementary School in Bangued, Abra during the ladies’ volleyball game of the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) Meet held in February 2018.
The game was as scorching as the weather – the players unleashed their prowess and made the ball unceasingly fly through their backbreaking moves and brisk tricks.
The Eagle Spikers of Apayao made the crowd go wild when they stood firm as a team and seized a straight set with scores 25-19, 25-22, 25-22, defeating Baguio City and clutching their third championship in a row.
They also overthrew the Baguio team in 2017, and trounced the squad from Mountain Province in 2016.
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“Holding a title is not an easy task. It needs dedication, passion, and wise time management between teaching loads, family responsibilities, and coaching sports,” Ronaldo Antolin, the coach of the team, humbly admitted.
“I need to equip my players with skills and techniques before sending them to battles but the greatest skill I have inculcated in them is self-discipline because for me, value formation is the most important goal a coach should aim for his athletes,” he added.
In addition to bringing home the gold, the Apayao Eagle Spikers also bagged precious awards in the recent regional meet. Eleventh grader Ricka Mae Ulidan – the team captain from Pudtol Vocational High School (PVHS) – was awarded as the Most Valuable Player (MVP), while Fevie Janine Illustrado – also from PVHS – received the Best Server award. Karllete Lianne Patta was declared as the Best Libero.
But the lives of these volleyball medalists were not always made of cheers and applause. Before heading to every competition, these athletes had to undergo through a lot of challenges and hardships in their rehearsals and tune-up games. They had to be trained every after school hours on weekdays (from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.), and on weekends (whole Saturdays and afternoon of Sundays).
The team captain also shared that self-determination and obedience to the coach make a competitive athlete. “It’s hard to be an athlete but it’s an honor and privilege,” Ricka uttered.
As part of the trainings, the ladies attended tune-up games in Tuguegarao City, Batac City, and Laoag City in order to acquire experiences and hone their skills.
The team’s name was not only etched in the local Palaro; they also won the First Northern Invitational Volleyball League held in Claveria, Cagayan where they brought home the championship and P30,000 cash prize. They also bagged the first place during the Governor’s Cup held in Apayao and took home another P30,000.
The Apayao Eagle Spikers are working hard and are intent to conquer another court – this time, in Ilocos Sur during the 2018 Palarong Pambansa.