Region 8 delegates, including the VSU Pythons’ men's and women’s badminton teams, had an incredible run at the National State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA) after clinching a bronze medal finish in the tournament on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, held at Tarlac Agricultural University.
The men’s team was placed in Bracket C where they faced off against Region 4 (Calabarzon), Region 7 (Central Visayas), and Region 6 (Western Visayas). They dominated their group matches as the team went on to have an undefeated group stage exit. They bested Region 6 in a 2-1 victory, completely obliterated Region 7 in a 3-0 sweep, and had a close 2-1 outing against Region 4 to record a 3-0 win-loss record in their bracket.
However, in their clash against the National Capital Region (NCR), they fell short as the NCR outlasted Region 8 in a 2-0 duel. Jan Miguel Milobago, region 8 delegate from Northwest Samar State University (NwSSU), faced off against Mialda of NCR in the singles-A match, in which he dominated the first set by going on a promising 21-11 rampage. Despite the great effort, Mialda obliterated the 2nd and 3rd sets against Milobago in a dominating 21-13 and 21-13 set win, respectively.
VSU's own Martin Michael Angelo Valenzona and Carl Vianney Castil paired up to level up the match standings in the doubles match against NCR’s Abang and De Guzman. NCR drew first blood in the first set after beating the duo of Valenzona and Castil, 21-13, in the first set, but the Pythons players surged back in the second set in a hard-fought, thrilling 24-22 set victory. However, Valenzona and Castil couldn’t hold their newly built momentum, eventually losing the third set in a heartbreaking 15-21 defeat. Nevertheless, this finish earned them the third-place spot, bagging bronze in the national tournament.
Moreover, the women’s team was also placed in Bracket C, only dropping one game in the group stage. They got off to a solid start, going 2-0 in their first two matches against Region 6 which ended in a 2-1 victory, and closed out Region 7 with a set score of also 2-1. Despite having momentum on their way, they weren’t able to seal the deal in their last game against Region 4 as they were bested in a 1-2 defeat, ending in a 2-1 win-loss record in their bracket.
In their clash against NCR, Ark Hezekiah Cabras, a region 8 delegate from Eastern Visayas State University (EVSU), completely owned the singles-A match as she went on to establish a 21-9 and 21-10 lopsided 1st and 2nd set victory, respectively. The VSU Pythons’ dynamic duo of Ma. Trixie Jane Cristino and Eloisa Rose Esperanza tried to ride Cabras’ momentum. The duo got off to a slow start, losing the first set in a tough 13-21 defeat, but they managed to level the set standing by winning in a grueling 22-20 grit and grind effort. However, Cristino and Esperanza would finally fall to NCR’s pair in the third set in a heartbreaking 8-21 defeat, as NCR would level the match at 1-1.
The gut wrenching doubles defeat initiated a Deciding Singles match, which was played by VSU Pythons' Joan Fay Libotan. Libutan would nip a narrow first-set victory as she went hand-in-hand with her opponent in a nerve-wracking 24-22 victory. However, she would lose the remaining sets in a dramatic fashion, losing the second and third sets in a thrilling 21-23 and 19-21 defeat, losing to NCR in a 1-2 win-loss record. Nonetheless, their feat still earned them a bronze medal finish in the tournament.
VSU Pythons Men’s Badminton team head coach, Mr. Aldrin Palermo, said that this National SCUAA experience can help both VSU Men’s and Women’s Badminton teams in the coming Regional SCUAA Games.
“National SCUAA experience of VSU athletes is very important to motivate them to train harder. This will also make them realize that national competition is far different from regional competition. For the badminton team, their experience in the nationals will help them gain more confidence and improve as an athlete. Also, they can use the experience to overcome the pressure of being the defending champion of Region 8.”, said Palermo.
The 2023 National SCUAA Region 8 delegates concluded their run in the tournament by garnering eight (8) total bronze medals. The VSU Pythons men’s and women’s badminton teams are set to clash again for the Regional SCUAA Games, which will be held at the Visayas State University on October 22–27, as defending champions.