And the swagger is truly back.
In Season 77, the confidence of La Salle was clearly amiss when it failed to score a single win against rival Ateneo in all the 4 times the 2 teams faced each other.
That won’t be the case this year, however, as the Lady Spikers finally found a solution to the problem that has puzzled the squad for 2 consecutive years.
Chipping in 9 points and a lot of intimidation factor in the 25-22, 25-14, 25-18 victory, veteran Mika Reyes has a smile from ear to ear as she expressed relief after the match.
“I missed it!” exclaimed the middle blocker.
“Sobrang pinaghirapan namin ito. Pero hindi ko masasabi na ito na ‘yung peak eh. Binigay namin lahat pero for me kulang pa ‘yun,” she added. “Ang dami pa naming kailangan trabahuhin at i-improve. Hopefully, sa mga next few games mas maayos pa namin.”
The hype coming into the match looked well worth it when the 1st set delivered delivered all the fireworks expected from the powerhouse teams.
In the succeeding sets, though, the Taft squad started to pull away, anchoring on the all-around performance of team captain Kim Fajardo, who top scored with 13 points and 16 excellent sets.
“No, I didn’t expect a straight sets match. Lagi kong sinasabi sa mga teammates ko na, ‘Girls, hindi pa ‘yan patay. Lalaban pa ‘yan.’ Defending champion ‘yan eh,” shared the 2-time champion.
On Ateneo’s attempt to stage a raly in the 3rd frame, she adds, “Sabi ko, ‘Guys, hindi natin pwede ibigay sa kanila ‘yung chance. I-grab natin ‘yung opportunity every time na lamang tayo.’ Nagawa naman namin.”
More than the points and the leadership, what was evident on Reyes’s performance was her presence at the net which was punctuated by a single block on Alyssa Valdez.
To Reyes, this was simply her way to bring back her confidence that has been missing for the past 2 seasons.
Talking about why she mellowed down, Reyes says, “Before kasi, lagi akong tinatawagan ng referee. Pinapatalikod ako. After that year kasi with Ate Michele (Gumabao), naging strict sila.”
“Honestly, hindi ko talaga napansin ‘yun until may mga nagsabi at nag advice. Nakanood din ako ng ibang games ko and I realized na oo nga, may kulang. May nagbago sa akin,” she added. “Wala naman masamang ibalik. And good thing naman siya for me and for the team.”
With a look of victory on her face after the block, the spiker earned back her self-esteem but at the same time the ire of some fans.
This, according to the 5-foot-11 spiker, is the least of her concerns.
“Ako, wala naman ako dun sa bashing. Inside the court lang ‘yan eh,” she said. “Kung totoong supporter sila ng team, alam nilang inside the court lang ‘yun. Outside the court, magkakaibigan talaga kami. Hindi ako nambu-bully sa mga tao talaga. This is just a game.”
“Susulitin ko na ito. Last playing year ko na at wala na silang magagawa. Hindi nila ako mapipigilan dito,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio