PLDT has tapped Rald Ricafort as the new head coach of the High Speed Hitters for the 2023 Premier Volleyball League Season.
Ricafort spent the last four years with Petro Gazz, steering the Angels to the 2022 PVL Reinforced Conference crown despite entering the final round as the third seed.
He is also the head coach of University of the Philippines’ men’s volleyball team and an assistant coach of the university’s women’s volleyball team.
“We at PLDT are excited to work with a young champion coach in Coach Rald,” said PLDT/SMART Head of Sports Jude Turcuato. “We know he can guide our players to the next level.
“We are always looking to improve and get the best out of our team,” he continued.
The “youth movement” PLDT is about to embark on is what led Ricafort to sign on with the team.
“I’m very grateful tot Petro Gazz sa four years we spent there dahil natulungan nila kami to be the coach that we are today,” expressed Ricafort.
“Sa binanggit sa akin ng PLDT na they want to have a youth movement beginning with the coach, yun din nakita ko na direction na dapat itakbo ng career ko. Tinake ko siya as the perfect opportunity to have a new environment,” added Ricafort, adding that the negotiations he had with the High Speed Hitters management “happened so fast.”
Also brought in by PLDT is Arnold Laniog.
Laniog is a champion head coach, guiding College of Saint Benilde’s men’s volleyball team to the NCAA Season 92 crown and Petro Gazz to the 2019 Reinforced Conference title. He is also the De La Salle University Green Spikers head coach.
“Having Coach Arnold is definitely a big help sa akin as I move to this new environtment since kami rin naman yung magkasama all these years. With him around, there won’t be much of an adjustment sa trainsition sa gusto nating mangyari sa team,” shared Ricafort.
“I’m very thankful na kasama ko siya rito.”
Ricafort replaced George Pascua, the head coach of PLDT during the 2022 season.
The High Speed Hitters finished fifth in the Open Conference, fourth in the Invitational Conference, and sixth in the Reinforced Conference.
Ricafort knows there is pressure in leading the flagship team of the MVP Group. And he is excited about what lies ahead.
“Siyempre, nandun yung pressure lagi to compete pero sa akin, mae-enjoy ko ito. Knowing history namin sa Petro nun na for three years almost iba-iba yung lineup… I feel na nag-deliver naman kami noon,” he said.
“Dito naman is ung challenge is to give the extra push to this PLDT team na malakas din naman at maging motivated sila to find their next level.”