She has proven her wares in the sand court but prior to UST’s debut against Adamson, Rica Rivera has yet to set foot in the taraflex court of the UAAP.
The Season 76 beach volleyball champion made her first appearance in the indoor volleyball tournament Wednesday as a bench player, but when the going got tough for the Golden Tigresses, Rivera was summoned for duty.
With veteran Carmela Tunay having a bad day, the Cebuana spiker stepped up to aid teammates Cherry Rondina and EJ Laure with 7 points in the 3 sets she played.
Despite losing to the Lady Falcons, Rivera could not wipe the smile off her face when she told FOX Sports the high she felt during the match.
“I’m ecstatic because I finally got to play in the UAAP indoor volleyball tournament,” she said. “It’s extra special because even if we lost, I was able to contribute to my team. Finally, my focus shifts back to indoor volleyball.”
Back in 2013, Rivera’s name was already creeping into the minds of volleyball aficionados as names of potential recruits for each school started spreading online.
Her collegiate kickoff was put to a halt, however, when she tore her ACL back in 2014.
“Prior to playing here, there were a lot of roadblocks,” Rivera reminisced. “I got injured so I had to go through therapy and recovery and it was not easy.”
“I’m just happy that I got to show everyone that my injury would not hinder me from moving forward,” she added. “I went all-out because I know I have a lot to offer.”
And though getting one of the coveted 14 spots in the UST lineup was not easy, the 5-foot-7 spiker tirelessly provided her undivided attention to the sport and her academics in the past 10 months to score a slot.
“My entire commitment in the past few months were exclusive to playing and academics. I really worked hard,” she said. “My goal was to make it to the UST lineup and here I am, I just played my first game. It’s unbelievable.”
The talented pool of UST makes it tough to tell who will start for the Golden Tigresses in every game.
But for Rivera, starter or from the bench, she is ready to go all-out for the black, gold and white.
“I’m not wishing to be a part of the starting lineup. What I can do to just make sure I’m ready whenever the team and my coaches need me,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio