AMAZING SPIKE. University of Perpetual Help middle blocker KC Andrade scores on a spike during the match against Ateneo de Manila University in the V-League Men's Collegiate Challenge at the Paco Arena in Manila on November 27, 2022. Perpetual won, 25-21, 25-21, 25-20, to win the bronze medal. (Photo courtesy of PVL Media Bureau)

MANILA – University of Perpetual Help System DALTA has started preparing for its title defense in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) volleyball tournament next year.

"The players have returned to training. They practice everyday from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the school gym," said head coach Sammy Acaylar in an interview on Tuesday.

Perpetual had ended its campaign at the V-League Men's Collegiate Challenge with a bronze medal finish, beating Ateneo de Manila University, 25-21, 25-21, 25-20, last Sunday.

Skipper Louie Ramirez led the Altas with 20 spikes and two blocks. KC Andrade had 11 attacks and two blocks and Hero Austria scored 10 points to go with 12 excellent digs. John Philip Pepito made 21 excellent receptions and eight excellent digs while John Christian Enarciso made 25 excellent sets.

"Well, I am happy because we only had a one-month training and the result was good," said the 61-year-old Acaylar, who hails from Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental.

Perpetual was the only NCAA team to have reached the V-League semifinal, but it failed to advance to the final round after losing to National University, 22-25, 22-25, 16-25.

"The team did not play well, we lost our blocking and defense," shared Acaylar. "We joined the V-League for exposure, to develop the players' skills and mental toughness. There were lessons learned from the experience."

With the NCAA just two months away, he said the Altas have to be at their best when the competition begins.

"All we have to do is focus on our weaknesses and try to improve them," said Acaylar, who steered Perpetual to 12 championships, including sweeps from 1985-1990, 1993, 1994 and 1995. The Altas are seeking a three-peat, having won back-to-back titles in 2019.

"The goal is to keep the NCAA title and we will do our best to achieve that goal," added the head coach of the national men's team in the 2017 SEA Games and the national women's team in the 2014 Asian Seniors Championships. He was training director of the women's team during the Philippine Super Liga Selection (2015-2016).

Acaylar served as head coach of Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors (2017), Cignal HD Spikers (men and women, 2013-2016), PLDT Philippine National Team (2015-2016), De La Salle University-Manila (2010-2012) and was a consultant of Southwestern University.

Aside from indoor volleyball, he coached and led Perpetual to the NCAA beach volleyball title in the juniors (Season 94), men's (Season 88) and women's (Season 85-87) divisions. (PNA)