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Not the streak, says Gorayeb. Focus on the championship.
by rick olivares
When the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Lady Stags play the Arellano University Lady Chiefs for the NCAA Season 90 title beginning January 21, Roger Gorayeb hopes to annex his 22nd women’s crown for the school.
And there’s the matter of the streak. Since he began coaching the Lady Stags in the 1984-85 season, the longest he’s gone without a championship is two years.
After his first title in his first year, Colegio de San Juan de Letran won it the following year. SSC-R bounced back after with 10 straight championships. Letran ruled for two years from 1997-99 before Baste came back with another streak of four consecutive women’s volleyball trophies. Philippine Christian University interrupted the reign with two women’s trophies of their own before the Lady Stags strung up another string of six straight championships.
The University of Perpetual Help Lady Altas won the last three NCAA women’s volleyball competitions (but the Las Piñas-based school will not be able to defend the title for a third straight year as they bowed out in Final Four competition) but Gorayeb’s string of championships between two years is still incredibly alive because the last time SSC-R was in the finals was in Season 88 when the coach was suspended due to the scuffle with basketball players from San Beda. Assistant Clint Malazo coached the Lady Stags that season. So technically, Gorayeb’s streak of not going without a title after two years is still alive.
However, the coach isn’t concerned at all with “the streak” as he deems it too individualistic and “probably coincidence.”
“What I want is to win for these girls who have endured difficult times and a lot of heartaches,” said the fabled volleyball mentor in the vernacular. Gorayeb is also making waves now with the National University Lady Bulldogs where they have won three straight under his tutelage. “I am hard on my players because I want them to experience the satisfaction of winning a championship like the players who came ahead of them did. It is also of course, for the school.”
Standing in the way of history are the tall, deep, and talented Arellano Lady Chiefs. The Lady Stags were not even expected to compete for the title given their lack of height and depth. But behind Gretchel Soltones with a lot of help from Jolina Labiano, setter Vira Guillema, and middle hitter Jonah Corpuz, San Sebastian defeated College of Saint Benilde and the Lady Altas to land a finals berth. “We played to our potential in sweeping Perpetual Help,” added Gorayeb. “If we dropped another set, we would have been in a tie with the other schools and maybe not make it to the finals in terms of points. It’s good to be back. It never gets easier. Only harder.”
Arellano and San Sebastian play for the NCAA Season 90 championship in a best-of-three series beginning January 21 at the San Juan Arena.