MANILA, Philippines – Hard work and sacrifices paid off for Alaina Bergsma after the former beauty queen from Oregon spearheaded Petron to an overwhelming victory over Generika to claim the title in the 2013 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix last weekend.
It was sweet victory for the Blaze Spikers, who lurked in the shadows of Philippine Army for the first three conferences before being crowned the new champions in the women's division of the inter-club tournament.
It was Bergsma who put the finishing touches on the victory, as she tallied 21 hits for a total of 24 points to emerge as the Most Valuable Player, much to the delight of the crowd that trooped to the Cuneta Astrodome to witness the volleyball action.
For Bergsma, the achievement and personal feat were the result of hard work and sacrifices.
Two months before boarding the plane to Manila, Bergsma married her high school sweetheart, Kevin Coble, in a romantic ceremony in Laguna Beach, California.
It was a match made in heaven as the 6-foot-8 Coble was also regarded as a star athlete, having led Northwestern University in scoring and rebounding in the US NCAA Division 1, before seeing action in the NBA Development League.
He is now in China following a short stint in Japan.
"I had to set everything aside and leave for Manila to play professionally. It wasn't an easy decision, but I had to do it," said Bergsma, who was the team captain of the Oregon Ducks in the NCAA, and was also a contestant in the 2012 Miss USA pageant.
"For us, winning the championship is the ultimate goal. When we started the season, we wanted to win the championship, and just being able to get that done," she added.
"I know it's every team's goal going into the season, but I really felt that our team had the advantage going into this game."
True enough, Bergsma and the Blaze Spikers coasted to a red-hot start, winning six consecutive games. They lost to RC Cola-Air Force and Generika to finish the double-round eliminations with an 8-2 record, but were unfazed knowing that their teamwork will pull them through in the playoffs.
"I never doubted the team," said Petron coach George Pascua. "I knew that when the going gets tough, everybody will be ready to step up."
"This championship was a total team effort," he added. "Everybody contributed, from Alaina to Erica (Adachi), Dindin (Santiago), Frances (Molina) and Mina (Aganon). The entire team should be credited for this win."
Pascua is hoping that Bergsma and Adachi can join them when they represent the country in the FIBV Women's Club Championship in Vietnam next year.
"Hopefully, they will be available," he said. "It's a call for the national duty. We have to put our best foot forward to make our country proud."
Before leaving for another foreign assignment, Bergsma will fly to China and be with her husband to finally push through with their delayed honeymoon.