It’s been 12 long years since the last time the UP’s women’s volleyball team made it to the upper half of the rankings in the UAAP.
After almost a decade after the sport had its initial telecast, the closest that the Lady Maroons got to the post-season was a 5th place finish back in Season 70.
The case was completely different a little more than 3 decades ago, if you ask former team captain Lyra Resurreccion, who led UP to its last title back in 1982.
“It was a pretty competitive field. There were always 3 teams vying for the championship. It was between UP, FEU and UST,” she told FOX Sports.
“Tatlo kami naglalaban nun and it was anybody’s match. You really had to play your best and fight for the games,” she added.
Save for its latest iteration, UP has struggled to bring back its dominance in the collegiate ranks, even finishing dead last back in Season 74 when it finished with no wins in 14 contests.
This, according to Resureccion, would never have happened back in her prime.
“We didn’t know how to lose then. Pikon kami pag natatalo kami nun. And we were a great team,” she said. “I won twice, my 1st year and my last year. In between, we were always in the finals.”
The 3-way rivalry has since mellowed down as Ateneo and La Salle became two of the strongest collegiate teams in the country.
“Ang Ateneo-La Salle noon wala pa ‘yun. Hindi namin pinapansin ang Ateneo-La Salle. Pag sila ang naglalaro, ‘Ah, okay,’” recalled Resureccion. “Even the 2nd stringers would get to play against them. Wala ‘yun. It was always UP, FEU and UST and that was it pretty much.”
It remains undeniable, though, even to the proud alumna how the emergence of the tug-of-war between the Taft and the Katipunan squads helped give the sport the spotlight that is long overdue.
“Nakaka-inggit! I’m so happy for the players and the teams now. I’m so happy for the attention that they are getting because it’s about time,” she shared.
“We have such great volleyball players. I’m very happy for the sport. Look at the people, they are enjoying the game because it’s a beautiful sport,” added the UP legend.
Present during the intense battle between UP and UST Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Arena where her alma mater came out on top, Resureccion briefly talked about how she sees Jerry Yee’s crew’s capability of resurrecting Diliman’s winning ways.
“Definitely, I see this UP team as a champion team, no question about that,” she shared.
“This year, they can do it if they will it. They have the skills. If they can get their play going all the time, kaya nila. Kakayanin nila,” the former middle blocker added.
With veterans like Kathy Bersola and Nicole Tiamzon, and an outstanding batch of rookies and sophomores, UP is indeed on its way to rebuilding and recovering all its lost glory.
Asked who she thinks is the most impressive in the roster so far, Resureccion said nobody stood out and that is the best thing about the new and improved UP team.
“No one in particular impressed me. There were 2 or 3 of them who were consistent,” she shared. “I’m so happy to watch the rookie players doing so well. I can’t imagine how good they will get in the next few years.”
“I was not impressed by one player in particular but that’s what’s nice. You know, it’s a team thing.”
The outpour of support coming from the UP community is starting to make a huge difference thsi 2016 as the crowd continues to grow for the Lady Maroons.
All the attention is well-deserved as the 2-time champion closed by saying, “Always a great feeling watching especially with 2 good teams like that. I’m so happy UP won, it’s a good team.” — By Mac Dionisio