MANILA, Philippines - In a dramatic ending of the 79th UAAP Women’s Volleyball tournament preliminary rounds, the Big Dome witnessed not only the awaited formation of this year’s Final Four cast, but also the emergence of fresh talents who may just step out as future superstars of the league.
As a ‘resting’ Jhoana Maraguinot proudly gazes from the sidelines, rookie Jules Samonte stepped up big for the Lady Eagles - the breakout game of her young career being against the defending champions and rivals De La Salle University.
The De La Salle Zobel product pitched in a career-high 10 markers on 9 attacks and a service ace in the Lady Eagles’ 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19 victory on Saturday, April 8.
While they have accomplished the feat of gaining top seed this season, it wasn’t always an easy road for the Katipunan-based squad. The Lady Eagles were successfully contained by La Salle in the opening set as they were limited to one of their fewest points this season. But last year’s finalists came back up, and maintained composure to finish strong in the next 3 sets.
For "Player of the Game" Samonte, team effort as well as the right amount of focus indeed went a long way.
“I think it’s because Coach Tai told us to play our game, [there’s] no pressure,” Samonte shared after the win.
“He said win or lose, there’s no problem. We just enjoyed the game, and we played like how we play in training.”
Samonte, like any other newcomer participating in a huge collegiate match, felt jitters as she stepped onto the court against La Salle. The former UAAP Girls’ Volleyball Best Scorer, however, banked on her teammates’ beaming support as she played her best game to date.
“At first, I was really nervous,” Samonte said with a smile. “But then, my teammates boosted my confidence.”
“They said there’s really no pressure because I’m a rookie, no one really expects anything from me.”
After finishing with a league-high 12-2 slate, the Lady Eagles now prepare for an exciting clash against the gritty Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, a team that has pushed them to 5-set thrillers in the eliminations.
As she participates in her first ever Final Four in the senior ranks, the rookie will always have her big sisters’ valuable advice kept in mind.
“They gave me a lot of advice actually. But then, the number one advice is that [to] not pressure yourself, and [to] just play your game.”
The twice-to-beat Ateneo will face the 4th seed Lady Tams on April 23 at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com