The stories of untold victors: '23 NSCUAA Bicolana 4th placers

In the recently concluded 2023 National State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (NSCUAA) Games held in Tarlac, Bicol displayed adamant poise, bagging numerous medals in chess, swimming, and athletics. As remarkable as it may sound, behind the glory and praise of our medal-bearers are Bicolana women, who were a notch away from adding up to the regionโ€™s medal tally. Stepping into the spotlight of these near-medal achievers, here are the battle-for-bronze stories of Bicolana athletes who, despite confronting formidable pre-tournament obstacles, sported their prowess and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the finest athletes in the country in the 2023 NSCUAA Games.

๐˜‰๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ข ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ฅ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด ๐˜ฑ๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ฉ ๐˜•๐˜Š๐˜™ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ข ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ, ๐˜ด๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฑ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ป๐˜ฆ ๐˜ท๐˜ด ๐˜Š๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ป๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ

Tisja Miranda and Maxine Borela of Bicol University and Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges, respectively, rallied Bicolana paddlers against the 2018 champion National Capital Region, winning the doubles round, before dropping the semi-finals match in the singles and deciding rounds, 3-0, 1-2, 3-0, October 4.

Seeded for the bronze match after, Bicol pulled off an interesting adjustment in the do-or-die match. Replacing Joy Nunes as their main gun in the singles category, Milan Frejas of BU shouldered the starting duty. Due to the sudden change-up, Bicol failed to anticipate Calabarzonโ€™s familiarity with their lineup, dropping the first set, 3-0.

Aiming to extend the match, Bicolโ€™s dynamic duo of Miranda and Borela gave Calabarzon a run for their money, snatching a set, 3-1. However, due to the short recovery time after the semi-final loss against NCR, momentum weakened as the region eventually slipped to a podium finish of 3-0, 3-1.

๐˜‰๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ข ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฒ๐˜ถ๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ฉ ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต ๐˜ท๐˜ด ๐˜š๐˜–๐˜Š๐˜Š๐˜š๐˜’๐˜š๐˜ˆ๐˜™๐˜Ž๐˜Œ๐˜•

Raiza Mae Taller opened the bronze match with an almost perfect performance in a quick 7-0 run against SOCCSKSARGEN. However, just when Taller was about to sweep the singles round, SOCCSKSARGEN pulled a momentum starter going to the preceding matches, 1-8, at Tarlac Agricultural University.

Coming from a diesel start, SOCCSKSARGEN shook off the underwhelming singles performance, punishing the Bicolana duo Carla Jane Andrada and Patricia Ann Corporal, 8-3.

Finally, Ma Leizle Gonzales tightly grasped the podium finish chance, securing the first match, but SOCCSKSARGEN proved too much to handle, stunning Gonzales in an 8-0 run. SOCCSKSARGEN claimed bronze against Bicol.
๐˜‰๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ข ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ฌ ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฌ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ธ ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ฅ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ป๐˜ฆ ๐˜ท๐˜ด ๐˜Š๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜“๐˜ถ๐˜ป๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ

Bicolana sepak takraw athletes failed to exploit the error-laden Central Luzon in the nail-biting bronze match, 21-19, 20-22, 21-19, at Santa Ignacia Auditorium on October 5, 2023.

In the first set, Bicolana athletes managed to close in gaps, minimizing errors to six against twelve from Central Luzon. However, Central Luzon rained on Bicol's defense with unreturnable spikes and aces, containing Bicol to 19 points.

The second set had a close storyline, but the Bicolana athletes managed to run offense and punish Central Luzon's offense via tricky services, extending the match to a decider.

Albeit Bicol's erratic start in the decider, the region secured comfortable leads throughout the set until the 18th point mark. With Central Luzon's timely substitution, Bicol struggled to read Central Luzon's injected spiker, slipping to a podium finish, 21-19.
๐˜‰๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ข ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ 4๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜ท๐˜ด ๐˜•๐˜Š๐˜™, ๐˜ž๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ ๐˜๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ข๐˜บ๐˜ข๐˜ด

After topping bracket B against Zamboanga Peninsula and Cagayan Valley, also dribbling past the host Central Luzon in the quarter-finals, Bicolana hoopers dropped the semi-final match against National Capital Region and lost the bronze grip against Western Visayas

As per Shiela Leoncito, BU athlete and one of Bicolโ€™s ace shooters, the team struggled in the semis as the battle toughened, facing NCRโ€™s impenetrable defense, yet she assured that the team fought hard until the last seconds of the match.

Concluding their NSCUAA stint, Leoncito with her team, failed to recover after the 3-1 drop. Carrying the heavy loss against NCR, Western Visayas took advantage of the ailing Bicolana shooters, shutting Bicol for a bronze medal finish.

Until here, although these stories were missed chances to think at the outset, our Bicolanas stood a valiant fight against the countryโ€™s best state colleges and university athletes. However, with this yearโ€™s NSCUAA what-could-have-beens, there should be bigger questions to ponder: are Bicol athletes undergoing sufficient preparations for national tournaments? Or will the region continue to settle for almost and overlook potential champions?

By Jessah Vejerano & Jimwell Tanay
With reports from Kier Requio & Alyssa Balana