Champion coach Dante Alinsunurin hopes to see men’s volleyball continue to rise
MANILA, Philippines — National University may have dominated the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament en route to a historic ‘three-peat’ but coach Dante Alinsunurin believes the return of their division was an achievement for all the male volleyball players and teams.
The Bulldogs hardly missed a beat coming off a three-year pandemic hiatus, going on a perfect 16-0 campaign for their fifth overall title. They also extended their winning streak to 34 games dating back to the opening day of Season 81 in 2019.
But more than basking in the glory of their achievements, Alinsunurin hopes for the continuous rise of Philippine men’s volleyball.
“I hope the men’s league continues to rise. We’ve been playing at a championship level, but I hope the entire play in the UAAP rises too. I hope the entire men’s league gets support,” said Alinsunurin, ”a former national team coach.
When Alinsunurin steered the Philippine men’s volleyball team to a historic silver medal in the 2019 Southeast Games, hopes were high that their division would reach greater heights.
The silver medal that shines like gold inspired all the male volleyball players from different in the country and even made the UAAP change its schedule to alternate men’s and women’s games in 2020.
However, the pandemic wiped out the league after four playdates and it took three years for men’s volleyball to return to action.
“When the players returned last March, they were really excited. Everyone waited for a long time so everyone was just happy every training and they were really inspired to learn from everything we taught,” Alinsunurin said in Filipino. “I’m thankful to my players because they execute all the things we do in practice and follow our instructions always.”
Before the season started, Alinsunurin was removed from his post as national team head coach due to multiple coaching gigs including Choco Mucho in the Premier Volleyball League.
But his dream for the rise of Philippine men’s volleyball never faded. He also commended the vast improvement of their Finals rival University of Santo Tomas, which pushed them to their limits and became a testament that their division will reach greater heights.
“Even before the league started we already saw that UST is slowly catching up to our level. They improved a lot. I was amazed because they have a lot of first-year and second-year players but they performed well and made it hard for us,” he said.
“I’m impressed with the system of coach Odjie. Even if his players were young, they put up a good fight.”.”
That’s why Alinsunurin wants the Bulldogs to remain hungry despite a perfect season as he expects the level of competition will improve next year when they defend their title for the fourth straight season.
“Having a 16-0 season is rare. What’s important was the players enjoyed and no one got injured badly. I hope this continues, for men’s volleyball and for the NU program,” he said.
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