Like most championships, this one didn’t come easy. In fact, BaliPure almost didn’t make it to the semis.
But with sheer determination, guts plus some luck, the Water Defenders can now call themselves champions in only their second year in the country’s premier women’s volleyball league.
“It was a tough road (to the championship),” said BaliPure coach Roger Gorayeb, moments after steering the Water Defenders to their maiden championship with a sweep of the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors in their best-of-three series for the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference crown Wednesday.
“Before the tournament started, a lot of teams had tried to woo my players to join them. Then we almost didn’t make it to the semis and barely escaped from going through a playoff to advance,” said Gorayeb.
Against the unbeaten Creamline side in the Final Four, BaliPure dropped the first game and moved to the brink again.
But the Water Defenders got some break as the Cool Smashers had to play sans top hitter Alyssa Valdez after the management decided to give the national player her much deserved rest for two big international tournaments.
Still, the Cool Smashers fought back hard but the Water Defenders proved steadier, more determined and earned another crack at the championship.
“We lost the first game (against Creamline) and we almost didn’t make it to the finals,” recalled Gorayeb.
But the Water Defenders swept the Cool Smashers in their next two games then did the same against the defending champions in the finals to crown themselves the new volley queens.
“The girls persevered (in the elims). After that, it’s a different story. Iba na yung character namin,” said Gorayeb, tracing their long, hard trek to the top of women’s volley world.
What made it sweeter was the fact that they did it against the very team that foiled their bid the first time out.
“We’re very happy since we worked so hard to get this (championship). As a team, we went through a lot,” said BaliPure ace Grethcel Soltones.
They vowed to work harder even as they brace for a lot tougher challenge when they resume their quest for another championship in the near future.