Despite losing to FEU 4 times this year, UP’s Isa Molde believed it was only a matter of time before they can score a win against one of their toughest competitors.
And on Wednesday, during Game 2 of the V-League Battle for Bronze held at the PhilSports Arena, Molde got a taste of her first victory over FEU when she and the rest of the Lady Maroons snapped the drought and turned back the Morayta crew in 4 sets.
“Hindi naman ako nag doubt sa kakayanan namin kahit lagi kaming natatalo ng FEU,” she told FOX Sports.
“Siguro hindi lang talaga namin makuha kung ano ‘yung ginagawa nila. Pero at least ngayon nagawa na namin kung anong kailangan para matalo sila,” she added.
The tandem of Molde and Nicole Tiamzon, who finished with identical 24-point outputs, at the outside hitter position proved to be a goldmine for UP as they assaulted the FEU defense with 45 attacks.
More than the tangibles, however, the Cebuana thinks it was UP head coach Jerry Yee’s instructions to play happy that did the trick.
“Si coach kanina sinasabi niya talaga na mag start kami na may energy at nage-enjoy. Nagawa naman namin,” she shared.
Talking about the pressure that has hampered them throughout the conference, she adds: “Pag hindi ka kasi talaga masaya bababa ang laro mo eh.”
After bagging the Season 78 Rookie of the Year award, Molde’s 24-point explosion should not come as a surprise anymore.
But with the way she has been playing in the off-season, her latest outing is a welcome development as she now returns to top form.
“Hindi naman ako nag-relax. Frustrated (ako) kasi ang daming ine-expect ng mga tao sa paligid ko. Hindi ko maabot mga expectations nila kaya parang nahirapan ako,” she shared, talking about the unfortunate dip in her performance.
As it turns out, all it took to awaken her passion anew was a heart-to-heart talk with Yee who has become a father figure to Molde ever since she moved to Manila.
“Aminado din naman ako na bumaba ang laro ko pero sabi niya bumawi na lang daw ako,” she said. “Wag daw ako mag-alala kung tatargetin ako. Anu naman kung ako ang target sabi niya. Tatagan ko lang daw ang loob ko.”
Molde’s weakness in defense seemed to be part of the game plan of FEU with most of their balls going straight to her as if she had a target on her back.
With nerves of steel, though, Molde turned the tables on the Lady Tamaraws as she tallied impressive numbers in the non-scoring categories with 19 excellent digs and 17 excellent receptions.
Full of gratitude, she says: “Malaking bagay sa akin ‘yung tiwala ni coach na tuloy-tuloy lang.”
Minutes after the win, the outside hitter got another confidence boost when her hard work and perseverance was once again recognized as she was awarded as the best outside hitter.
And while her UAAP award was quickly followed by a slump like it’s a jinx, Molde vows to keep getting better from this point on.
“Hindi na bababa ang laro ko. Dapat tataaas na,” she said. “Basta kami we’ll just keep doing our best.” — By Mac Dionisio