Just 3 days before the 13th Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference raises its curtain, expansion team Bureau of Customs announced the last name who will complete its 14-woman lineup: underrated yet effective middle blocker Pau Soriano.
At 5-foot-7, Soriano, though considerably small for her position, has time and again proven how height is just a number after leading Adamson to multiple semis finishes in the UAAP and bolstering Cagayan Valley’s offense and defense in its memorable runs in the V-League.
With mother team Philippine Navy not fielding in any team, Soriano reunites with collegiate mentor Sherwin Meneses, who will be at the helm of the BOC Transformers.
“Walang Pau Soriano kung walang coach Sherwin,” a thrilled Soriano told FOX Sports.
“Marami siyang itinuro sa akin pagdating sa paglalaro. Marami siyang binago sa galaw ko. Pero pinaka-importante ‘yung attitude sa laro at sa buhay na naituro niya,” she added. “Sobrang naging laking factor niya sa buhay ko. Hanggang ngayon ‘yun pa rin ang mindset ko.”
Other middle blockers who will play alongside the former Lady Falcon are UAAP Season 68 Rookie of the Year Lilet Mabbayad and Arellano University standout Andrea Marzan.
While Soriano received a couple of offers from other club teams, the challenge of turning a new team from zero to hero was enough to lure her into joining Meneses’s fold.
“Gusto ko kasi ‘yung naggo-grow ako eh. Ayaw ko ‘yung mag stop sa isang bagay. Hangga’t alam ko na merong opportunity na mas maganda na makakatulong sakin as a person and as an athlete, go lang ako,” shared the spiker who is known for her attacks that are of break-neck speed.
Surprisingly, the Soriano-Meneses team-up is not the only reunion happening on the Customs’ side.
Throwback all the way to 2008, the Navy personnel revealed she and the Transformers’ star spiker, Alyssa Valdez, used to be teammates when they represented NCR in the Palarong Pambansa.
“Nagulat ako kanina kasi nakatayo lang ako. Deadma lang. Biglang sabi niya (Alyssa Valdez), ‘Uy, bakla kamusta ka na?’ Nagulat din siya na nandito na ako at siya ‘yung unang tao na naging masaya nung nalaman niyang sa Customs na ako,” she shared as her patented poker face breaks into a smile.
On finally playing on the same side of the court again, she adds: “Sobrang saya kasi lagi na lang kaming magkalaban niyan eh. Talagang nagbabasahan kami ng laro. Ngayon teammates na kami. Magtutulungan naman kami this time.”
And the revelations kept pouring.
Aside from Valdez (a bench player back then, according to Soriano), part of the NCR team from 8 years ago were erstwhile Ateneo stars Dzi Gervacio and Fille Cainglet, both played a significant role in boosting the popularity of the sport.
Not known to many volleyball fans, Soriano almost joined Gervacio and Cainglet at Ateneo as she was one of the hotly-recruited prospects back then for the talented class of Season 71.
“Kinukuha ako ng Ateneo, La Salle mga ‘yan. Magkaka-batch kasi kami nila Dzi (Gervacio). Nagku-kwentuhan kami na kung saan ‘yung isa, dun kami lahat dapat,” she shared. “May pinagsamahan na kasi kaming lahat. ‘Yung sisterhood kasi nandun na eh tsaka ‘yung teamwork so nag decide na dapat sama-sama kami.”
The duo off St. Scho later on became a huge crowd-drawer, making 2/5 of the famed Fab 5 while Soriano said pass on both Ateneo and La Salle as she joined the then Minerva Dulce Pante-led Lady Falcons.
Asked why the plans didn’t materialize, the spiker simply said she didn’t feel like she belonged in Katipunan.
“Eh nung bata kasi ako, siyempre galing akong public school. Inisip ko baka hindi ko kayanin. ‘Yun ‘yung naging doubt ko. Baka hindi ako belong dyan. Baka hindi ko kayanin. Baka hindi ako magtagal,” she said.
“Ayoko naman na mag stop ‘yung pag-aaral ko. Sa akin kasi, although love ko ‘yung paglalaro, stepping stone ko ‘yun para makapagtapos. Nag decide ako mag Adamson,” she added.
All these are now water under the bridge as Soriano has since made a name for herself as a deadly spiker, efficient blocker and even a decent floor defender.
This, she says, she hopes to bring to the table as they face powerhouse squads like Pocari Sweat, Bali Pure, Laoag and Air Force among others.
“Gusto ko makatulong. Gagawin ko ‘yung best ko. Kailangan magampanan ko ‘yung expectations sa akin ni coach na ‘yung experience ko, mai-share ko sa mga kasama ko,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio