FEU, at least for the last 2 seasons, has been the kryptonite of UP’s heroic rise in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
Having defeated powerhouse teams like Ateneo and NU, the expectations on the Lady Maroons’ Final Four hopes skyrocketed especially after zooming to the 3rd spot with a 7-4 win-loss card.
Though UP was only a win away from scoring one of the coveted spots in the semis, its high morale was dashed after being slapped with back-to-back losses, the latest of which came from the hands of the Lady Tamaraws, a team they last defeated back in Season 76.
“Last naming panalo sa kanila second year pa ako. Last namin silang kalaban at tinanggal namin sila sa Final Four,” shared UP libero Princess Gaiser.
On FEU’s defense frustrating their attackers, Gaiser adds, “FEU grabe! Depensa nila kahit anong paluin namin kaya nila. Nakikita ko sa mukha ng teammates ko na nafu-frustrate sila kasi lahat ng palo nila nakukuha.”
Down to a dismal 7-6 record, the Diliman crew is now faced with a daunting task of finishing the second round with a win as they are set to face-off against UST, a team who will be playing without much pressure on its shoulder after getting eliminated.
It will be a complete contrast for the Lady Maroons since their 14th outing of the season will determine their post-season fate.
“‘Yung mga bata first time nila ito so kailangan nila ng leader. Eh kami nahihirapan kasi kami pa mismo ‘yung sometimes nawawala at sina-sub. Sila na lang natitira and hindi nila alam ano kailangan gawin kasi ‘yung pressure iba na,” she shared.
True enough, the seniors of UP in Kathy Bersola and Nicole Tiamzon were noticeably subbed out in some crucial junctures of the past 2 games due to their hot-and-cold performance.
For the diminutive defensive ace, the thought of finally ending a 12-year Final Four drought has gotten into their minds earlier than it should have.
“Na-overwhelm kami. Lahat naman ng tao nagulat. Kami din nagulat na ito na, makaka-semis na,” admitted Gaiser.
“Kami kasi noon we played because we wanted to play. Pero ngayon parang may ibang factors na. ‘Yung we need to win, added pressure,” she added. “Dati kasi we just play na parang we’re having fun. Kulang kami ngayon sa page-enjoy lang. Ang stiff namin gumalaw.”
Team chemistry is the least of UP’s concerns as head coach Jerry Yee and his wards have been constantly together, even spending the Holy Week break together on a team building exercise in Laguna.
For Gaiser, it is imperative for her and her teammates to remember what started them playing the sport first place: volleyball is the passion of each and every one of them.
“Ngayon, kailangan namin mag move on agad from this. Gawin na lang namin itong experience para sa game sa UST,” she said.
“Sa mga games kasi ngayon, ang nananalo is ‘yung mas gusto manalo diba? Sa next game namin, kailangan mas gustuhin namin kasi that’s the last chance. Wala nang other chance,” added the St. Scholastica’s College alumna.
“Kailangan ipakita namin na volleyball is our passion and mag enjoy lang kami. ‘Yung mga external factors, wag muna namin isipin.” — By Mac Dionisio