Each of the 36 teams ˗ 20 girls and 16 boys ˗ has a story to tell in the ongoing Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) Under-18 Championships at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Like Maryhill College (Lucena City) and De La Salle-Lipa (Batangas City) and several other provincial teams, the UVL Muñoz Hornets travel by land from their base at the Science City of Muñoz in Nueva Ecija for their matches and return home after.
The Hornets improvise—they hire vans or commute, which consists of three rides—by tricycle to the bus station in Muñoz city proper for the trip to Grace Park in Caloocan and again by public transport to the Manila venue.
On Saturday, the Hornets played shorthanded ˗ they didn’t have legitimate libero and middle blocker ˗ but still gave Marikina Titans Volleyball Club a run for its money before yielding, 21-25, 25-20, 25-18.
“If we had a complete team, we could have had more opporunities to win,” the Hornets’ coach Raven Miguel Fabro said after their match Saturday in the tournament organized by the PNVF headed by Ramon “Tats” Suzara and supported by the Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine Sports Commission, PLDT, Rebisco and Akari.
A rented van that was supposed to ferry half of the team to the Rizal Memorial Coliseum on Saturday morning for their 11:30 a.m. match with Marikina figured in an accident with a wayward tricycle in Baliaug, Bulacan.
There were no serious injuries but the players’ chaperons decided to return to Munoz because some of the kids were traumatized, Fabro said.
“It’s better that the kids be brought back home so they’ll be able to recover from the trauma, I’m sure they would need counselling,” he said.
Fabro knows what he’s talking about.
UVL stands for United Volleyball League, a league Fabro established in the pre-pandemic to organize tournaments to raise funds for children with leukemia.
Fabro himself is a leukemia survivor and his daughter and another member of the team, too.
“It’s been my advocacy, to help children with leukemia through the sport I love most,” said Fabro who played for the National College of Business and Arts and was an apprentice in the coaching staff of the late Nes Pamilas, one of the most respectable volleyball coaches in the country.
“I’m proud of my players … who I treat like my own daughters … for playing tough. We even converted one libero to be our setter, it’s very hard to play without a setter,” Fabro said.
“We were stunned but they played their best despite playing shorthanded,” Marikina Titans coach Alex Seda said. “I really admire their [UVL] willingness and bravery to win.”
Marikina improved to 1-2 won-lost in girls’ Pool C while UVL dropped to 0-2.
In the other girls’ results Saturday, Sto. Niño de Praga of Trece Martires City (2-0) beat Volida Volleyball Club of Manila (2-1), 25-16, 25-15, in Pool D and New Gen Santa Cruz (1-2) of Sta.Cruz (Laguna) scored a 25-20, 25-20 win over Junction Youth Organization of Los Baños (0-2) in Pool A.