It was a rare sight Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Center when high school volleyball star Eya Laure sat on the bench of UST during its do-or-die matchup against NU in Season 78.
Laure, an incoming Grade 11 student, witnessed how the Lady Bulldogs turned back her seniors in a 5-set thriller which eventually eliminated the Tigresses from Final Four contention.
UST head coach Kung Fu Reyes shared the reason behind his last minute decision to let the younger sister of EJ Laure, senior team’s skipper, join the coaching staff on the sidelines.
“Para maramdaman niya kung paano ba sa college kaya ko siya pinaupo sa UST bench,” Reyes told FOX Sports.
“From her mismo at a young age, nakakapag-analyze siya at nakakapagbigay siya ng feedback sa ate niya (EJ Laure) and even kay (Alyssa) Teope. From there, magandang pundasyon,” he added.
With her exposure as a junior Tigress under the wings of Reyes, Laure has emerged as one of the deadliest spikers in the high school ranks while also working on her other skill as a playmaker for UST high, this season’s runner-up in the girls’ division.
Naturally, different schools have already started knocking on the doors of the UAAP champion.
“May mga lumiligaw (na lumipat). Hindi naman natin pwede alisin ‘yan eh. Kaya lang, desisyon ‘yan ng bata,” shared the coach.
UST is no stranger to having losing talents with top notch student-athletes like Alyssa Valdez, Kim Fajardo and Jaja Santiago jumping ship from España to other institutions.
This, according to Reyes, was his main reason why he took the challenge of handling the embattled seniors team, taking over from colleague Odjie Mamon.
On securing the likes of Laure to join the women’s team, the coach says, “Ano ginagawa namin? Ganun pa rin. Inaalagaan naman namin ang mga players namin especially in academics. Basta ‘yung welfare nila hindi namin pinapabayaan.”
“We’re going all out to keep her. Kaya nga ako pumunta sa college para diretso transition mula high school kasi nabubugbog na masyado si UST,” he added.
Affected by the K-12 format which requires students to spend extra 2 years in the high school ranks, Laure’s fate hangs in the balance as Reyes shared even he is unsure whether the UAAP Board would already allow senior high students to play in the collegiate level or not.
“We’re just waiting for the ruling on K-12 kung ano magiging desisyon nila. Kung pwede na maglaro, bakit hindi?” he said.
For now, he adds, what he can hold on to is how his young guns are still enrolled in UST and there seems to be no signs yet of them making a big move.
“Wala man sila sa college pa, nasa senior high school sila. No sign pa rin na lilipat sila sa iba,” he closed. — By Mac Dionisio