USC volleyball: Go big or go home

By: CTU intern Mary Godinez - CDN Digital | September 02,2023 - 09:30 AM

USC volleyball

USC coach Grace Antigua (second from left) with players (from left)  Jaslyn Gegoncillo, Phoebe Astilla, and Anthony Ekwenugo. | screengrab from CDN SportsTalk

CEBU CITY, Philippines—The University of San Carlos (USC) men’s and women’s volleyball teams are gearing up to battle for glory in the upcoming season of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI), embodying the motto of: “Go Big or Go Home!”

Last year, the USC Lady Warriors clinched third-place in the Cesafi volleyball tournament, while the men’s team earned a hard-fought silver medal. 

In an interview with CDN Digital, Grace Antigua, the head coach of both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams, acknowledged that the team’s performance had been affected by the sudden changes brought about by the pandemic.

“From the pandemic, lisud kaayo because we were adjusting we have new players a lot niya ang body conditioning niya nag lisud pa mi ba ug adjust,” said the noted Cebuano coach, who was once a member of the national team.

Antigua and some of her players were guests in the weekly CDN Digital show, SportsTalk on YouTube.

With her were Jaslyn Gegoncillo, Phoebe Astilla, and Anthony Ekwenugo

Coach Antigua said she is hoping to have a plethora of opportunities for the team through invitational tournaments to refine the team’s experience and compete against opponents they might not regularly face. 

READ MORE: USC bags Cesafi women’s volleyball title

Both Ekwenugo, the captain of the USC volleyball men warriors, and Astilla, the USC women’s volleyball captain, commented that playing against other athletes has helped them hone their skills and also helped the team identify areas that need improvement.

“This time around for our preparation I think a big contribution to improving ourselves is really the play season games. So sila Naka adto silag ug Leyte kami we don’t. So we’ve also been to Libertad, sa Mindanao and a couple other places and I think that really help us [because] it showed us where we can improve more and I think that would really help us towards going to the new season of Cesafi,” Ekwenugo said.

READ MORE: USC Lady Warriors are Cesafi women’s beach volley champions

“It really helps us to point out the things that we lack pa as a team and also the techniques that we need to refined especially sa amoang selves sa amoang positions so that’s exactly what we need to refined so that we will be ready in the upcoming season,” Astilla added.

In the upcoming CESAFI tournament, the USC Warriors have identified Cebu Institute of Technology – University (CIT-U), University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJR), and University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) as the teams to watch out for. 

But Ekwenugo believe that the USC men’s team can stand its ground if they were to go head-to-head off against these teams, especially CIT-U. 

“I think this year, I’m really confident that we can still improve. We still have the time, and of course, we’re going to be prepared for that,” he said.

READ MORE: USC Warriors bare all-Carolinian coaching staff

On an additional note, Antigua on her assessment to the players’ current level of skills shared that the Warriors are stronger and more aggressive than ever for the upcoming season of CESAFI.

“This team is much better and much aggressive because on their mind— third ra raba mi last year  hopefully we will get it this year because we need more on strength. We are more concentrating more on strength and speed now.”

Meanwhile, Ekwenugo vowed to be a beacon of leadership on the court this highly anticipated season.

“For this season what I want to contribute to the team is hopefully my leadership because as a team like as men’s volleyball captain it’s so important nga na you have somebody to look up to especially a leader. So hopefully I get to rally my teammates together and so that we can also operate together and have that teamwork. So that we can finally get what we want just the gold medal,” he said.

Astillo, on the other hand, pointed out that the women’s volleyball team is still focusing on improving their teamwork.

“For the women’s team, actually we are all leaders in the team and it’s unlikely for us to follow a single person so we are like intact gani. So that’s the thing we’re working on and hopefully the upcoming season we can be ready na,” she said.

The CESAFI is expected to start in September with volleyball most likely to be held on October or November.



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TAGS: Cebu‬, Cesafi, USC, volleyball
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