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. From 2010 to 2019, Ramil De Jesus was arguably the most successful volleyball coach in the country. He primarily handled two teams in the 2010s, and both came away winners multiple times.
Ramil de Jesus has been the genius mastermind behind De La Salle University's volleyball supremacy.
In his 21 seasons of coaching the Lady Spikers, he has steered the team to 11 titles and seven runner-up finishes. This means that the team only missed the finals thrice under De Jesus' mentorship.
Players have come and gone throughout the years but the Lady Spikers remained a powerhouse because of De Jesus. His impressive credentials speak volumes of why he is now the longest-tenured coach in the UAAP, which is a feat in itself knowing how quick the turnover had been for other teams.
When he took the reins in Season 60, De Jesus quickly transformed La Salle into a top contender, ready to challenge the most decorated squads: Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas. The Lady Spikers made a breakthrough Final Four run before barging into the finals for eight straight years, capped off by their first 3-peat accomplishment.
The chance to make it four in a row slipped from their hands because La Salle was banned from competing in all sporting events in Season 69 following an ineligibility fiasco with its basketball team. The next year, the Lady Spikers got caught into their own ineligibility mess after it was discovered that star player Jacq Alarca was not enrolled for the semester. The UAAP decided to forfeit all the games that she played in while she was on a leave of absence, which dropped the team out of semis contention.
La Salle recaptured the crown behind the leadership of then graduating Most Valuable Player Manilla Santos in 2009. At the turn of the new decade, the Lady Spikers succumbed to a UST squad powered by Aiza Maizo, Angeli Tabaquero, and Rhea Dimaculangan but they successfully reclaimed the throne in Season 73.
In 2012, the six-year Ateneo-La Salle finals streak began, creating an exciting rivalry outside of basketball. The Lady Spikers prevailed in the first two series, which allowed them to achieve their second Grand Slam feat. The Alyssa Valdez-led Lady Eagles pulled off a stunning upset in Season 76, overcoming La Salle's thrice-to-beat advantage to earn their first-ever title. Overflowing with confidence, Ateneo came back even stronger and completed a season sweep as the Lady Spikers settled for back-to-back bridesmaid finishes.
La Salle returned to the top from 2016 to 2018 -- the last one at the expense of FEU -- and repeated as 3-peat champions. After a 10-year finals run, the Lady Spikers slid out of the top two at the close of the decade, losing to Sisi Rondina and the Growling Tigers in the semis.
De Jesus' remarkable accolades go beyond the UAAP trophies. While building a dynasty in Taft, he was able to recruit and develop high-caliber athletes who continued to excel even after graduating from La Salle.
The past decade has seen Alarca, Abi Maraño, Ara Galang, and Majoy Baron follow the footsteps of Santos, Desiree Hernandez, Maureen Penetrante, and Iris Ortega as league MVPs. Cha Cruz, Michele Gumabao, and Kim Kianna Dy emerged as Finals MVPs at different times, while setter Kim Fajardo and libero Dawn Macandili also left indelible marks. Most of them went on to represent the Philippines in the international stage, with Maraño currently serving as the national team captain.
De Jesus has also been the architect behind F2 Logistics' dominance in the Philippine Superliga. The Cargo Movers reigned supreme in the All-Filipino Conference during their debut season in 2016. In the next three years, they took the league by storm as they advanced to the finals in all conferences that they competed in, winning the title four out of eight times.
De Jesus has made a lasting impact on Philippine volleyball for over two decades and counting. Despite the changing times, he has proven that his system can sustain a winning tradition and produce multiple championships. More importantly, he continues to bring a higher level of competitiveness both in the collegiate and professional ranks. He also largely contributed to the sport's increased popularity by helping different generations of volleyball stars shine over the years.