MANILA, Philippines – “Nakita niyo naman ang pinag-gagagawa ko doon.”
This was Abi Maraño ‘s immediate response when asked how she felt after watching the De La Salle University Lady Spikers overcome the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles in three sets, 25-2, 25-14, 25-18, last Saturday in the UAAP Season 78 tournament.
“Every single point, nakita niyo naman – all out talaga ako. Every single point, tumatalon kami, sumasayaw kami,” she added. “‘Yun ang tribute namin sa team – na kahit wala kami sa loob ng court, ma-feel nila ang presence namin.”
Maraño’s final game in a La Salle uniform also came against Ateneo, but it was a complete turnaround from what she witnessed last weekend. In Season 76, the Lady Spikers were upset by the Lady Eagles in four hard-fought games in the Finals, and their hopes of a “four-peat” were dashed as Ateneo claimed its first women’s volleyball crown.
“Alam din naman natin kung gaano kasakit sa akin ang last playing year ko ‘di ba,” Maraño admitted. “Pero siyempre, naka-move on na ako doon.”
“Ang sa akin lang ngayon, sobrang saya ko. Doon lang ako naka-focus, na ang saya-saya ko for the team,” she stressed. “Nakita ko ‘yung growth nila, and the players, nakita ko ‘yung maturity nila.”
Maraño pointed out that she was already in the team when players Mika Reyes, Ara Galang, and Kim Fajardo made their La Salle debuts.
“Nakita ko si Yeye (Reyes) na hindi pa makapag-pasok ng service, sobrang lantutay pa ng mga palo niya,” Maraño said. “‘Di siya maka-block. Pero ngayon, makikita mo na ‘yung fruit ng lahat ng mga pinaghirapan niya as a senior.”
She was especially proud of Fajardo, who submitted a truly dominant performance with 13 points and 16 excellent sets. “Today, na-execute niya lahat,” Maraño said of the setter. “Nakita mo kung gaano kapalaban si Kim.”
Of the team as a whole, she said: “From the time na kasama ko sila na medyo nene pa, tapos ngayon, they’re all providing for the team. They’re all leaders inside the court.”
Maraño was especially delighted to see shades of the La Salle teams of old in the Lady Spikers last Saturday, as her former teammates displayed the old “swagger” that had characterized them in previous years.
“Nakita ko na ‘yung swag nila,” she said. “Noong nawala ako, parang tinitimpla pa nila ng kaunti. Siguro, medyo nahihiya pa mag-express ng emotions.”
“But now that they’re all seniors, wala ng hiya. Andoon na ‘yung motivation, and parang malakas na ang loob nila, kasi hinog na hinog na sila,” she added.
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