Best of the Decade: Sammy Acaylar puts his stamp on Philippine volleyball

As the decade draws to a close, the ESPN5.com editorial staff look back at the sporting figures and moments that stood out and helped define Philippine sports in the 2010s. Check back regularly until December 31 for the latest features in our ESPN5.com Best of the Decade series.

We honor the coaches who excelled in the 2010s, those who made their mark, raised the bar, and collected championship trophies along the way. This list includes Sammy Acaylar who not only became coach of the national men's volleyball squad numerous times, but also made Perpetual a dominant force in the collegiate scene.

While basketball continues to be at the forefront of Philippine sports well into the second decade of the millennia, volleyball has made a strong case as the second most popular spectator sport since the early 2000s.

The inroads made by volleyball have now transcended into the international arena punctuated by the Philippine men's volleyball team's emergence in the recently concluded Southeast Asian (SEA) Games where the squad reached the finals for the first time in 42 years, winning a "Golden Silver".

Men's volleyball, which has long been submerged in the shadows due to the renown and exposure given to the women's game, has slowly risen from obscurity. Among the steadiest and most dominant programs of the decade has been the University of Perpetual Help System DaLTa, thanks to the leadership of the inimitable Sinfronio "Sammy" Acaylar.

The 60-year-old Cagayan de Oro City native has been appointed, on numerous occasions, as national team head coach beginning in the 1991 SEA Games where he steered the men's team to an unlikely bronze medal finish against the powerhouses of the region. It was the last podium finish of the Philippines before this year's edition. He was also at the helm of the 2017 men's team that finished 5th in the Malaysia SEA Games.

Acaylar is now remembered by mainstream audiences for being at the helm of the original Cignal team in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) that attained two silver medal finishes in the maiden season of the league in 2013. He went on to coach the then expansion Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors before stepping down and refocusing on what initially made him a headliner this decade: the Altas.

From 2010-2014, Perpetual amassed what was then the longest winning streak in Philippine sports by claiming 53 consecutive victories en route to four straight NCAA crowns and despite not having the most dominating roster still managed to outclass the competition.

The 53 wins in a row, at the time, was longer than the Adamson Lady Falcons' softball shutout (48 wins) and the National University Lady Bulldogs basketball program (whose streak was just beginning).

It was then the longest winning streak in Philippine sports.

The run for the Perps ended on December 4, 2014 when the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals nipped the Altas in 5-sets.

Acaylar has been known as a wily tactician and a motivator whose talents are more felt in the men's game as his stints in the PSL and the women's national team didn't produced tangible results. Among the products of Acaylar are present national team libero Jack Kalingking former national team gunners Rey Taneo, Bonj Castel and setter Warren Catipay.

Perpetual celebrated the full-time return of Acaylar in 2018 by going on to win back-to-back NCAA men's volleyball titles and proclaim him as among the most influential and most successful mentors of the decade with six NCAA men's volleyball titles and the architect of the program that has the Altas at least one championship (in the men's, women's and juniors' division) since the turn of the decade.