UAAP: With sweep, NU emulates head coach’s feat 13 years ago

NU head coach Karl Dimaculangan. UAAP Media.
NU head coach Karl Dimaculangan. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines — Karl Dimaculangan is no stranger to success.

The youthful head coach of National University won multiple titles in college while playing for the University of Santo Tomas. In 2009, he earned Most Valuable Player honors while piloting the Tiger Spikers to a perfect 17-0 campaign in the UAAP Season 71 men’s volleyball tournament. 

It was thus not surprising that the coach remained as cool as ever after the Lady Bulldogs completed a sweep of the elimination round of the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament. It was, after all, a feat that he has achieved before.

“Sobrang masaya [ako], and thankful sa players na rin,” Dimaculangan said after the match. “‘Yung feeling ko kasi before na naka-sweep, siguro na-translate ko sa team.”

“Kasi Season 71, noong player pa ako, na-feel ko kasi itong ganitong feeling, na naka-sweep. So sobrang saya. Ngayon, coach naman ako ngayon,” he added.

The Lady Bulldogs had completed their sweep at the expense of Dimaculangan’s alma mater: NU dismissed the UST Golden Tigresses, 25-22, 29-27, 25-17 on Thursday night to claim an outright Finals berth.

That is the one difference between Dimaculangan’s Tiger Spikers and the young NU team that he is now coaching. During Dimaculangan’s collegiate years, there was no step-ladder format; UST had to go through a traditional Final 4 despite having swept the elimination round.

Rather than battle the No. 4 seed, the Lady Bulldogs are now waiting for their Finals opponent. The rest of the semifinalists, meanwhile, will go through the step-ladder: the fourth-ranked team will play the third-seeded Golden Tigresses in a knockout game, and the winner of that match advances to take on the second-seeded De La Salle University Lady Spikers, who have a twice-to-beat advantage.

Whoever emerges from the step-ladder, the Lady Bulldogs will be widely favored to triumph in the best-of-3 finals. Yet Dimaculangan is careful to remind his team that they cannot be complacent despite their perfect record and clear advantage against the rest of the field.

“At this level, at this point na tapos na ‘yung elimination, ang message ko lang palagi is nag-eexpect kami ng mga ganyang klase ng game na sobrang intense,” said Dimaculangan. “‘Yun lang yung nire-remind ko sa team, na hindi pa rin tapos ‘yung trabaho namin.”

For now, however, their focus is to first rest and recover from a cramped elimination round schedule that saw them play virtually every other day. Afterward, it will be time to watch and scout the semifinals, with Dimaculangan looking to guide the Lady Bulldogs to a perfect campaign just like he did the Tiger Spikers 13 years ago.

“Mahalaga sa amin ‘yung recovery,” the coach said. “And then, usap kami ng coaching staff para ma-plano ‘yung next na gagawin namin and prepare for the Finals.”

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