Everyone thought of them as a weaker team compared to their predecessors. Following the departure of well-known players and seasoned coach-tactician, most people expected the team to fall apart.
But even though volleyball was arguably not the most supported sport in the University in terms of logistics and amidst all unpleasant things thrown at the team, the Southwestern University PHINMA Spiking Cobras, led by their team captain Mark Kevin Petancio, proved all of them wrong when they bagged the championship title in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. 2018 Volleyball Tournament, a back-to-back feat that no one saw coming, with Petancio garnering the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the second time in a row.
Few people may dismiss his first MVP title as beginner’s luck, but Petancio definitely erased all doubts in his rise to Cebu volleyball fame.
Below is The Quill’s interview with the reigning MVP:
Quill: Did you expect as a team that you will get the championship title this year?
Mark: For this season, we did not expect to win since we lost a lot of seniors: Dave [Cabaron], [John Eduard] Carascal, [Pete] Macasero. We lost half of our team behind last year’s title run. And there are many rookies in our current team.
Q: Last season, the lineup of players was very formidable: two National Team members plus seasoned tactician Coach Dave Arreza. So now that you don’t have them anymore with you, yet you managed to snatch a back-to-back win, is it safe to conclude that the title this season is worth more celebrating?
M: Yes, this is a hard-fought win indeed. During the round-robin semifinals match, we lost to UV, and another loss to either CIT or USJ-R could send us home packing. Our coach and the other players really wanted to win. We wanted this, and we got it!
Q: Do you credit your good plays to your libero, to the receivers, or your receptions?
M: I credit it to everyone. We are good in spiking and offences, we are weak on defense. When the championship started, the team showed good defense. The whole team wanted to grab the championship title, we all wanted to win.
Q: Your family has three generations of well-known volleyball players. Do you consider yourself as the most successful one?
M: No, maybe my grandmother. She has a lot of achievements in volleyball. She used to be a member of the Philippine National Team.
Q: So, what’s next for Mark Petancio? What are your other plans?
M: Maybe I will try out for Manila teams. It depends if someone will scout me.
Q: If there is anything that volleyball taught you that you can apply on your life, what is it?
M: Because of volleyball, I was able to go to school. I learned how to be more focused on things.
Q: What is the lesson that you can impart to other student- athletes?
M: Focus on your practice. You should love what you are doing for you to last long and make it through.
Q: In case you won’t succeed on your plan of going commercial, what are your next steps?
M: Maybe pursue my profession in Marketing Management. I am also considering on entering the army since I really dreamt of becoming one. I see myself wearing the uniform, defending the country.
Q: In terms of taking care of student-athletes, what are your suggestions about the things the Admin should improve on?
M: Southwestern provides the best offers to its athletes, but maybe in food servings. We only get to receive the meal once we live in the dorm. I myself get to receive meal cards, but I give it to our reserves since they don’t receive allowance from the school. Also, in allowance, the basketball players receive greater amount of money than us. We are all varsity players, and arguably, we bring more laurels to the school. Everyone should be treated fairly.
Q: Do some or few of the volleyball players feel like there is favoritism generally on how people in SWU treat the players of different sports?
M: Yes, maybe because that’s what the people were used to doing. Whenever there are games, more people would flock to basketball than volleyball tourneys. Not necessarily in SWU, it is a Filipino culture already.
Q: If you are going to suggest something to the Athletics Department on how to treat their athletes fairly and to erase the perception that there is favoritism, what would that be?
M: Maybe to not leave out volleyball and on the practices’ schedules as well. We are always the last ones to practice in the University Coliseum. We have our training at 9:00 PM. We also have classes, so preferably moving it to an earlier schedule will be better.
With booming voices and scintillating cheers echoing through the halls of the gymnasium, there is surely one realization that comes to mind.
All along, the alpha athlete doesn’t hail from the sport that has thrust the school into the limelight in the past. The banner bearer has finally emerged from the Men’s Volleyball Team, lurking in silence, always ready to leave yet another indelible mark—that which is inked out of the maroon blood of a true King Cobra.
by Jay Anthony Cavales and Jameira Luisa Ebuscado