Air Force spiker Dell Palomata admitted she was starstruck when she faced one of her idols, Jaja Santiago, in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference Wednesday night at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Palomata and the Jet Spikers prevailed over the Lady Bulldogs in 5 sets, but the Bacolod native couldn’t hide her excitement after battling the 6-foot-5 Santiago.
“Opo, syempre (na-starstruck ako). Idol na idol ko yun e. Kinabahan ako syempre. Alam ko namang di ko kaya (higitan si Jaja) e, pero okay lang. At least natry ko yung best ko para manalo kami kahit papano,” she humbly said.
After being unable to train recently with her team, Palomata had a measly 5-point output compared to Santiago’s herculean 20-point effort. She, however, came home with the victory and at least a playoff for a spot in the Final Four.
“Di ako nakapag training kasi sa Bacolod pa ko nanggaling. Nung laban namin nung Laoag, di ako nakapag laro,” she said.
“Nag process ako ng enrolment ko sa Bacolod kaya di ako nakapag training ng maayos. Tapos nagtravel ako kagabi para lang dito sa laro.”
And as Air Force tries to pose a serious challenge to powerhouse squads like Pocari Sweat and Bali Pure, the Jet Spikers will need Palomata to be in top form.
The University of St. La Salle product knows the tough road ahead.
“Kailangan ko pa po i-improve yung bilis ko sa court tsaka yung communication ko sa setter namin. Magtetraining pa ko para lumakas pa ko sa laban naming,” she ended. — By Joyce Palad