With Rizarri on board, USPF looking good

By: John Carlo A. Villaruel June 18,2017 - 10:53 PM

Members of the USPF girls’ volleyball team with head coach Yolanda Rizarri (left most). USPF’s Team A (in blue) won the Oscar P. Jereza Jr. Cup on Sunday.
CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON

After suffering one of the most embarrassing finishes by a team in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) indoor volleyball tournament, the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) needed someone who could at least get them into the playoffs this year.

But the Baby Panthers, who won just one of their six assignments in the 2016 season, seemed to have gotten more than they’ve bargained for in new head coach Yolanda Rizarri.

Rizarri, appointed as the head coach of the Baby Panthers in December, has turned the school’s fortunes around from being cellar-dwellers to title contenders.

Since her arrival, the USPF girls’ team has been on a roll, finishing second in the 2016 Cesafi girls’ beach volleyball before eventually winning its first title with Rizarri as mentor in the 3rd Inter-Private Cup last April against Southwestern University (SWU). Ironically, Rizarri played for SWU during her collegiate years.

On Sunday morning, the former Lady Cobra added another hardware to her coaching collection with USPF as she steered the Baby Panthers -A to a 25-13, 25-17, 18-25, 25-15 triumph over the SWU Baby Cobras to rule the 1st Oscar P. Jereza Jr. Volleyball Cup title at the Oscar P. Jereza covered court at the USPF Lahug Campus.

“Every game, our motivation is to win,” Rizarri said, adding that despite losing the third set, she was confident the team would win the title. “I expected us to win because I believe that our team was better based on our past games. We proved that when SWU had a hard time against the USPF-B in the semis yesterday (Saturday),” said Rizarri, who also defeated the same Baby Cobras team during the battle-for-third match in the Shakey’s Girls’ Volleyball League earlier this month.

After a strong first two sets in which USPF held its opponents to an average of 15 points, the Baby Panthers hit a brick wall in the third when SWU ignited an inspiring fightback led by their new recruits Ghanna Suan and Chyne Mae Saberon.

It was at this point that Rizarri reminded her team to keep their composure.

“They always relax. But I told them that we should not give them the fourth set because we might get in trouble,” Rizarri said.

And the Baby Panthers responded to the challenge as eventual MVP Jum Gayo put her playmaking ability on full display, finishing off SWU in the fourth.

“We made up for our mistakes and worked together as a team because we were so relaxed during the third set,” said the Liloan, Cebu native Gayo.

Aside from Gayo, other special awardees were USPF’s Anna Cuerbo (best blocker), Tracy Cortes (Attacker) and Lian Miñoza (Libero) while SWU’s Mary Castillo bagged the best setter plum.

Meanwhile, the USPF-B took home the third place after beating the Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu training pool team 25-7, 25-12.

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