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Amidst losing season, Meralco’s Mika Reyes flourishes in the PSL

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Unquestionably, the DLSU Lady Spikers have the most dominant volleyball program in the nation. With legendary head coach Ramil De Jesus and his staff constantly recruiting and developing top-level talent, DLSU has featured in almost every UAAP Finals since 2000 and has churned out one legendary volleybelle after another.

But all this is why their recent stint at the PSL Grand Prix had supporters scratching their heads. With former and current Lady Spikers on the roster, the Meralco Power Spikers have lost eight of their nine matches in the tournament – the same number of defeats the Lady Spikers have had in the past two UAAP seasons combined, if postseason games are considered.

Amidst the ashes of the burning negativity lit by people outside the team, the Lady Spikers have produced multiple reasons for optimism – amongst those is Mika Reyes’ consistently impactful play. The former Kulasa has been a constant menace at the net, blocking and smashing kills against local veterans and imports alike. She’s recorded a block kill on four of the seven spiking imports: a Lynda Morales back-row bomb? She stopped that missile on her own. A Bojana Todorovic cross-court smash? She’s walled that off too. While there are kinks she and her setter Kim Fajardo need to work out, Reyes has put away a few highlight kills as well, recording multiple double-digit scoring outputs. She was often the second or third best scorer in the team behind their two imports.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Amidst losing season, Meralco's Mika Reyes flourishes in the PSL

Tiebreaker Times caught up with Reyes after their first win of the season against the RC Cola-Air Force Raiders. Reyes said that keeping a positive attitude throughout the season was key for her and the team in persevering through the losses. “At times, maiisip namin na ‘Bakit pa kami magti-training? Wala naman kaming panalo?’ Pero we removed that from our thinking. Pinakinggan lang namin ‘yung laging sinasabi ni coach na tiyagain lang ‘yung every point, every set, every game,” she said.

The two-time UAAP champion also revealed that she really had to push herself in order to match the level of play of the pros and imports in the PSL. “Siyempre, as a team, we’ve really just been playing in the collegiate level so it was challenge going up against ‘yung mga graduates and veterans. Aaminin ko na din, noong una umasa talaga kami sa imports. Pero, as time went by and natatalo kami, naisip ko na kailangan ko na magtrabaho. Naisip ko na may tiwala ako sa sarili ko first of all and before ako magsalita, kailangan ko muna ipakita na nag-wowork hard ako.”

As mentioned earlier, playing against internationally-hardened imports has been the highlight of her season. She realized their superior height and skills could give her optimal experience for the upcoming UAAP season this coming February. “Sobrang challenging, ang saya kaya [playing against imports]. Minsan ka lang may makalaban na ganoon e. Imagine, they’re above six feet and they’re still really skilled. Sa UAAP, with exemption of Jaja (Santiago), wala naman masyadong ganoon. Sobrang magandang experience naman talaga siya,” Reyes told Tiebreaker Times.

Moreover, when asked about her favorite moment so far in her PSL debut, she singled out playing against Philips Gold’s Serbian reinforcement and U.S. NCAA National champion, Bojana Todorovic as her favorite experience. “Sobrang idol ko talaga siya. Kahit ganoon ‘yung height niya, maganda ‘yung defense niya and ang smooth niya gumalaw. Sabi ko kukunin ko ‘yung palo niya tapos, noong nangyari and nakuha ko nga, sobrang saya lang.”

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Amidst losing season, Meralco's Mika Reyes flourishes in the PSL

The Power/Lady Spikers and Mika Reyes have blocked out all the scathing social media comments and continued to keep in their heads on the task at hand. Ask anyone on the team about all the losing, and they’ll tell you that it has just brought them together as a team; no finger pointing, no complaining, just positive remarks.

There’s more to their 1-8 tournament record: backed into a corner, different Lady Spikers stepped up and carried the load for the team – exactly what they needed to happen, considering two of their key players (Ara Galang and Desiree Cheng) are still recovering from knee injuries. If they win the UAAP Championship this Season 78, their challenging run in the PSL should be looked upon as a key factor. The Meralco Power Spikers play their final match of the season later against the Cignal HD Spikers at the San Juan Arena.

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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