Sportswriter’s Notebook- A great coach passes away: the legacy of coach Darwin Campana, the DLSU-Dasma Lady Patriots’ first title conquest with new coach(Part 2)

August Sta. Maria, women’s coach of the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines volleyball competitions, wanted to concentrate on rebuilding UST into a strong team.

But because UST and La Salle-Manila fought it out for the crown and the Tigresses won it in season 72, he had to give up his coaching job with the La Salle-Dasmarinas Lady Patriots in 16th season of the National Capital Region Athletic Association. (Note, the following year in UAAP Season 73, UST won the women’s championship after beating Far Eastern University).

The year was 2008. And coach August, just like Far Eastern University’s George Pascua, moonlighted as mentor of the Lady Patriots for some time, and with some sucesses. (Pascua, when he does not handle the FEU men’s team, is handling the Rizal Technological University Thunder).


(photo of first batch of DLSU-Dasma Lady Patriots who won their first crown with Darwin Campana (right) as coach. Fourth from left (standing is Jennifer Manzano and April Almaden).

Before he left, coach August left behind three surprise packages for the Lady Patriots.

First, coach August  showed me the future of the DLSU-Dasma Lady Patriots.

This lanky girl from Surigao, being groomed to be leaper and deadly with her powerful drop smash. And that’s April Almaden, whom I get to watch quietly during one of their practices, and after coach August told me stories about how talented she is.

He showed me how big she leaps and while April will be one the girls who will lead the Lady Patriots to greatness.

Another one, I get to know about  Jennifer Manzano, a big leaper from Pangasinan, and is tipped to give the Lady Patriots some sting during competitions.

Next, I get introduced to their new coach, Darwin Campana, who was transferred from the men’s team to the women’s team.

This was a few months before the NCRAA season was to begin.

In the coming months, the La Salle-Dasmarinas Lady would emerged as one of the power volleyball squads in the Southern Tagalog region.

And so, I remember, watching and writing about a game involving coach Darwin, and his first finals stint with the Lady Patriots.

–         Excerpt of article on Lady Patriot first crown under new coach

Jan. 27, 2009

The Philippine Merchant Marine School Mariners and the de La Salle-Dasmarinas Lady Patriots  came off with hard-fought victories to frustrate Rizal Technological University at their own turf yesterday.

This allowed them to clinch the men’s and women’s crowns of the 16th National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA) men’s volleyball crown.

The Mariners got big plays from one of its honor students and a tall frontliner as they fended off the  Blue Thunders,  21-25, 25-22, 21-25, 5-20, 16-14, in the battle for the men’s plum at the RTU gym in Mandaluyong.

Lanky frontliner April Almaden bagged herself the tournament’s MVP honor with her decisive plays in the final set which enabled the Lady Patriots to outplay the Lady Thunders, 14-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-18, to claim their first crown after placing fourth last season in the women’s action.

Both the Mariners and the Lady Patriots came away with 2-0 sweeps  in their best-of-three finals series with RTU in this varsity spikefest which is backed by Mikasa and Molten Balls, and

Nino Papa, who graduates with honors at the end of the schoolyear, came up one of two decisive plays in the final set with Ian Lambusan.

Papa, a Customs Administration student, shattered the game’s final deadlock, with a kill at the net which  enabled the Mariners to clinch their   first ever crown  since the school joined the league last year.

The five-foot-ten Lambusan then managed to block a return spike by Al Nasser Biting to pave the way for the Mariners’ title triumph at the end of their one hour and 58 minutelong contest.

“Kinuha na namin. Kung pinagbigyan pa namin, malamang at dahil bilog ang bola, baka makuha pa nila ang Game 3. Kaya kahit homecourt nila, pinilit na namin,” said Mariners coach Libay Misicoro.

The five-foot-eight Almaden pulled the Lady Patriots off a 5-all deadlock with accurate placement shots at net, allowing the Dasmarinas-based spikers to move ahead, 9-6.

“Nag-click yung adjustments namin nung second set kaya nakuha namin,” said Lady Patriots coach Darwin Campana, whose plan to put Tiu at the Lady Patriots’ weak left wing paid off after the team lost the first set.

Almaden  then joined hands with Jeusel Wensh Tiu and Precious Grace Abano in the latter part of the set  as they widened their lead by seven, with Abano’s drop shot handing the Patriots a 23-16 edge.

The Blue Thunders were supposed to take the fifth set after following frontline plays from Naj and Sabtar Abdul broke a 12-all tie and sent them ahead, 14-12.

But a placement shot from PMMS spiker and MVP Arvie Costa and Sabtar’s reception error allowed the Mariners to force a 14-all tie.

– More on coach Darwin Campana

It was not the last stint of coach Da with the Lady Patriots.

Because of the success of the Lady Patriots, more was in store of the team and for coach Darwin (to be continued).


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