MANILA, Philippines — Destiny made Karl Dimaculangan achieve two perfect UAAP championship runs as a player and as a coach.
Dimaculangan, the Season 71 MVP who led University of Santo Tomas to a perfect 17-0 title run 13 years ago, steered National University to its first championship since 1957 in dominant fashion, sweeping all 16 games in the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament.
As the man who achieved two perfect seasons as a coach and as a player, the youthful Lady Bulldogs mentor said his latest achievement felt more surreal and emotional because he didn’t expect to be hired by NU.
“It felt different (sweeping the tournament) as a coach. Because I didn’t expect to handle National University. Because I previously coached UE and there were more veteran coaches available that can handle them,” said Dimaculangan in Filipino, who tallied a 3-13 record in his two years with University of the East including the scrapped Season 82.
“But NU chose men and they trusted me to handle this team. It’s like destiny. I felt more emotions in my journey in winning this championship,” he added.
NU had six different coaches in the past decade Francis Vicente, Edjet Mabbayad, Dong Dela Cruz, Roger Gorayeb, Babes Castillo, and Norman Miguel. But all coaches couldn’t get over the hump.
The 34-year-old coach was destined to end a 65-year title drought, coaching the Lady Bulldogs who are composed of prized rookies from Nazareth School led by one-of-a-kind talent Bella Belen, who was the first-ever player to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year.
Dimaculangan deflected the credits to his players, also led by seniors Cess Robles, Ivy Lacsina, and Jennifer Nierva as well as rookies Lams Lamina, Alyssa Solomon, and Sheena Toring, who all made his transition from UE to NU easier and believed that they can sweep the season.
“These (NU) players have high volleyball IQs and their talents are on a different level. So I focused on the things that I can add. We changed the system a bit, we made them quicker,” said the soft-spoken coach. “I didn’t expect to sweep the tournament. But my players were confident that they can do it.”
NU played like a well-oiled machine this season and didn’t even play a five-setter in all 16 games. Dimaculangan’s wards dominated the winning program of Ramil De Jesus after sweeping La Salle in straight sets in their four meetings including the two finals matches.
It may look easy for others, but Dimaculangan said their perfect season was full of hardships and sacrifices that taught them a lot of lessons that they can use to be better in the next years.
“Most of you may see it as sweep. But it wasn’t an easy journey. All of us went through a lot of challenges and sacrifices behind the scenes. All of it was worth it as we were able to achieve our goal,” he said.
The NU coach said half of his team, like Nierva and Robles, are graduating and still undecided if they will extend their collegiate careers.
But for now, Dimaculangan wants his players to have fun and enjoy this historic moment before they figure out how to sustain the bar they set this season.
Regardless of who will bid farewell, at least NU’s best player in Season 84, Belen, is eager to run it back and become even better after her historic rookie season.
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