Taking a page from La Salle’s book.
This seemed to be the game plan of UST head coach Kung Fu Reyes Wednesday when he and his squad battled the Lady Spikers, who were riding on a high momentum after a huge win against rival Ateneo.
While La Salle head coach Ramil de Jesus emerged victorious after fielding in Kim Dy in his starting 6 last Saturday, Reyes had the same ploy, using rookie setter Alyssa Teope to close the height gap between the Tigresses and the Lady Spikers.
It turned out to be a card well played for UST as it caught the Taft squad off-guard, winning the tussle in 3 straight sets.
Apparently, up until the last minute, Teope was not aware that she will be starting against powerhouse La Salle.
“Ang sinabi lang po sa amin ni coach is magbabalasa kami ng tao kasi basang basa na kami,” she told FOX Sports. “Pero wala rin po kasi sa amin ang nakaka-alam kung sino ang magsa-start. Nagulat din ako kasi ako ‘yung tinawag.”
Though she was still outperformed by the Taft crew’s Kim Fajardo, 25 sets to 15, Teope managed to chip in 3 points on top of a number of deflected attacks from the opponent.
Giving credit to where it is due, the freshman heaped praises for their new libero, Rica Rivera, who was on top of her game with 16 excellent receptions and 13 excellent digs.
“Unang una, ‘yung maganda ko pong nagawa dahil lang naman po ‘yun sa magandang receive lalo na from Ate Rica (Rivera). Nakakagawa kami ng magandang plays,” shared the soft-spoken playmaker.
“As a setter, hindi na ako masyadong nahihirapan maghabol ng bola kasi sakto lang po talaga ‘yung bola,” she added.
Armed with good passing, the UST high school alumna showcased her quick and good decision-making, creating plays that allowed middle blockers Jessey de Leon, Tin Francisco and Chloe Cortez to combine for 15 points.
“Sa training namin, kailangan paganahin namin ‘yung middle kasi hindi dapat laging open,” she shared. “Sabi rin sa amin kailangan tignan ‘yung blockers at balasahin ‘yung plays. Nakinig lang din kami sa instructions ng mga coaches.”
Admittedly, Teope shares that her transition from spiking to playmaking was a slow burn which caused some fans to question whether the decision to convert her was the right move.
With perseverance, she pushed through, proving her inclusion in UST’s 14-woman lineup was no fluke.
“Dati po nababasa ko ‘yung mga sinasabi ng mga tao. Madalas po sabihin mag middle na lang daw ako at wag na mag setter,” she recalled.
On how she handled the constructive criticisms, she adds, “Pero sabi ko mas kumportable ako ngayon sa position ko and mahal ko rin ‘yung ginagawa ko. Mas nag pursige na lang ako na ayusin pa.”
Earning her stripes after tallying her 1st win as the team’s main setter, Teope is out to prove she is worthy of the trust that her coaches continue to give her regardless of her tenure with the team.
“Masaya at nakaka-proud po kasi kahit rookie pa lang ako as a setter, ‘yung trust pa din po nila coach binigay sa akin kahit alam naman po nating malakas ang La Salle,” said Teope.
“Inisip ko na lang din na hindi porket rookie ako, hindi ko na kaya gawin ‘yung ginagawa ng mga seniors ko,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio