Patriots making waves in the Philippine volleyball scene
Back in the 90’s, DLSU-D was given the moniker of “Roosters”. But we undoubtedly deserved a grander team name given the mass collection of league championships proving it. Soon, we evolved into the “Patriots,” with a farmer as our talisman to portray the hardworking and patriotic outlook of our Caviteño athletes, along with the cultivation of the sporting realm.
Yes, they’re not from the U-Belt. They’re not from the Big Three. They’re not Mika Reyes or Ara Galang. But, they can hold their own on the playing field. They honed their skills and matured in their sport in the same gym where our P.E. classes are held⎯the Ugnayang La Salle. If cheering for your favorite Phillippine Volleyball League (PVL) or Philippine Super Liga (PSL) squad has been bugging you because you think the Patriots have no representatives—well, look again.
If there was a present Michael Jordan from Tawi-Tawi, it would be Alnakran “Ran-ran” Abdilla, who graduated from our University in 2013 under BS Criminology and influenced a generation of spikers, especially in the Muslim community⎯including our very own stellar spiker, Eddiemar Kasim.
While his first steps in DLSU-D weren’t very successful, 2010 was Abdilla’s rise. The Tawi-Tawi native harvested three consecutive PRISAA (Private Schools Athletic Association) – Nationals, two NCRAA, and three UCAA (now covered by NCRAA) championships until 2013. However, his current feats definitely overpower his college achievements.
He was nicknamed as “The Airbender” in a YouTube video highlighting his spikes⎯and by spikes, we mean furious spikes that looked like he was in a long-standing squabble with the court. His skills even filled the Bagwis Pilipinas with superlatives as the then-22-year-old lead the Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship Philippine representatives and placed our country seventh out of 19 competitors.
However, Abdilla suffered a muscle tear on his knee back in the obsolete Spiker’s Turf in 2015 that stopped his volleyball race for two years. Despite what many thought as a career-ending injury, it provided a chance for Abdilla to helm the coaching boards as an assistant coach of our Patriots Spikers in 2016. But eventually, the now-25-year-old Abdilla returned to the volleyball scene like he was never gone, as he averaged 13 points in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) – Reinforced Conference for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) spikers, and even claimed the premiere league’s MVP award.
This spiker will also represent the Philippines in the upcoming SEA games after PAF agreed to temporarily relieve Abdilla from his duty in the military.
From being an unseasoned jock in FEU, the opposite hitter sailed to the shores of DLSU-D in 2011 and received a degree in BS in Tourism Management. The now-26-year-old competed in the Nestea Beach Volleyball League against 128 teams in 2013 together with her younger sibling, Iumi Yongco, who had a stint with Foton Tornadoes in the last Philippine Super Liga. Leaving DLSU-D’s hardwood in 2015, “Super Iya” caught three NCRAA and two UCAA top prizes.
Go to Google, click the news portion of the search engine and type her name⎯if you don’t watch volleyball much, you’ll be surprised that the name Iari Yongco invades volleyball by being the scoring leader of the feisty women of Air Force and opened the doors for a semifinals slot with a 5-2 win-loss card in the ongoing PVL Open conference. The 5’10 middle blocker sits as the sixth best spiker in the grandiose collection of female PVL athletes whilst leading the Lady Jet Spikers for a semifinals spot.
Jennifer Manzano – Acain
Talk about being a Patriot.
Jennifer Manzano, together with then-shining teammate Iari Yongco, left four successive NCRAA championships, three consecutive PRISAA – Nationals gold, a whopping five back-to-back championships in the outmoded UCAA, a championship in the Battle of the Champions in 2011 and 2013⎯against an enormous 128 teams⎯and represented the Philippines in the Summer Universiade Beach Volley 2013 in Russia and, as a Patriot, was recruited by the PAF in 2011 to play in the Shakey’s V-League (SVL)⎯even racking up a career-high 32 points in one match.
And that’s just partly the reason for her “patriotism”.
Perhaps the biggest achievement she received was giving back to DLSU-D. In 2012, with one playing year left, Manzano acted as the assistant coach for the Patriots on behalf of the late-Darwin Campana, who passed away on October 2013 and was the behind the volleyball wheels of the Patriots in its glory days.
Together with Yongco, Manzano played for PAF until 2016. But now that Manzano is carrying her volleyball heir, she’s taken a maternity leave from volleyball.
If you envy the UAAP schools that banner the Archer or Lady Spiker merch, a good look at the Patriot history might just ignite from Patriot pride. You probably won’t see DLSU-D on TV anytime soon, but screen time is hardly a sign of the hardworking nature of our athletes. As the Patriots have proven, with the right motivation and surroundings, even an unknown and diminutive seed can grow into a 50-foot tall tree. DLSU-D students know this—we are, after all, the greenest university in the country.