Minutes after UP dropped its second game in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference, incoming sophomore Isa Molde emerged from the dugout with puffy and red eyes, looking down and upset with her own performance.
Though Molde shared an identical 7-point output with team captain Kathy Bersola, she still missed her usual numbers causing her to be taken out of the court momentarily in the last frame as Air Force routed the Lady Maroons in 3 sets.
As it turns out, UP head coach Jerry Yee gave the Cebuana an earful during their post-game huddle due to her uninspired outing.
“Pinagalitan ko eh. Hindi ako contented sa effort lately,” shared Yee when asked about one of his top spikers. “Ayaw kong mag fall siya sa complacency. Ayaw kong umaakyat sa isip niya ‘yung lagi siyang ini-interview, lagi siyang binibigyan ng gifts ng fans at lagi siyang paborito ng lahat. Ayaw ko ng ganun.”
“Paminsan minsan may mga lessons na nakaka-iyak probably so ako na lang ‘yung kontrabida. Pasensya na kayo lahat,” he added.
Aside from UP returning to the Final Four after 12 long years, the team also celebrated its first-ever Rookie of the Year plum which was awarded to Molde as she bested one of the most talented batches in recent memory.
And with the likes of Alyssa Valdez and Ara Galang leaving the collegiate ranks, many fans of the sport were directing their adoration towards the unassuming outside hitter off Hope Christian High School as perhaps the next darling of the crowd.
All this attention, according to Yee, might derail his prized athlete on their way to achieving greater heights in the near future.
“Basically, walang sugar-coating. Ayaw kong complacent siya. Ayaw kong pa-star siya. Walang star dito,” the mentor said matter-of-factly.
“Wala pa naman kaming naa-achieve. Pag nag fall siya sa ganung trap na akala niya ang galing-galing na niya at hindi siya papagalitan, again, ako na lang ang kontrabida,” he added.
With a 0-2 record, the Diliman crew’s road to the next round is looking steeper as the tournament progresses but keeping it close against the Jet Spikers was a good indication of improvement for UP especially after it lost an integral part of its lineup when Jewel Lai has been deemed out of the roster.
“Meron akong problema sa setter. Nangyari ang changes a few days before ng game namin,” admitted Yee.
“After a week of practice, bumilis naman ‘yung kilos namin compared sa first game,” he shared. “Air Force naman ‘yun. Hindi naman kami binugbog. Good na ako dun. Sabihin niyo nang mababaw ako. I see improvements.”
Despite her late entry in the first set, Lai’s replacement, Mae Basarte, shone and delivered with 29 excellent sets. — By Mac Dionisio