Mapúa snags first win in NCAA beach volleyball tourney

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L-R: Mapúa Men's volleyball players Samuel Joseph Almalel, Paul John Cuzon, and Philip Michael Bagalay proudly show their trophies, testaments of the Institute's victory. The duo-Mapúans Cuzon and Bagalay were champions in NCAA's Men's Beach Volleyball competition. Cuzon was also named Most Valuable Player.

For Paul John Cuzon and Philip Michael Bagalay, the pair who managed to cop the first winning trophy for Mapúa in the 91st NCAA Men’s Beach Volleyball tournament, their success made them “overwhelmingly happy.”

“We are just thankful and happy that after long years of drought, we finally brought home a trophy for Mapúa,” Cuzon said.

The sport was formally included in the roster of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) in 2002.

The pair, both graduating students taking up Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, said that the trainings really pushed them to work hard. The two travel to Cavite every morning to play the sport, and train in the afternoon at the Ateneo sand court.

According to the team’s coach Mario Mia, he really pushed his players to work hard, always reminding them “don’t stop until good becomes better and better becomes best.”

“I think the turning point was when we had our do-or-die game with the team from the College of Saint Benilde before we entered the semifinals,” Mia said. The team played excellently during the first and second day of the tournament but played poorly on the third day.

“I reminded the team that we have waited for this moment for a year. Are we going to give it up just like that?” shared Mia.

The pair’s determination powered through shocking the University of Perpetual Help’s team and clinching the title of the tourney held in Subic.

It was the last season for Bagalay and Cuzon to play in the NCAA, and the team is now looking for new players. For players who will replace them, they have these words of wisdom to impart: “Keep learning from every mistake during the game and don’t let pressure get to you.” They also reiterated that an athlete must love his sport to perform well.

“You are allowed to get tired, but you should not give up,” Bagalay said. “Love the sport and work hard for it,” he concluded.