LAOAG, ILOCOS NORTE — It’s only fitting that Cignal will hit the floor come the Premier Volleyball League opening day this Saturday.
HD Spikers team captain Rachel Daquis — whom many consider as one of the league’s most established players — will make her homecoming in the league where it all started.
And yes, excitement is very much an understatement for the 33-year-old outside hitter. She will be setting foot once again on the V-League Taraflex for the first time in six long years.
“Siyempre dito tayo nagsimula talaga eh. Sobrang excited ako and I know ang tagal talaga naming hinintay ‘to eh. Almost two years na rin, so alam ko lahat kami excited,” said the V-League Season 11 All-Filipino Conference MVP.
“Alam mo ‘yun, pag-apak pa lang ng court ‘pag na kita mo na ‘yung lights. ‘Pag na kita mo na’ yung Taraflex, ‘pag nakita mo na ‘yung net… Parang kumbaga kikilabutan ka talaga.”
Daquis is now dead-set on getting that breakthrough victory over the Perlas Spikers at the PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.
“Going to our first game, siyempre gusto mo agad win ‘yan eh. Para first game, first win, good vibes at high morale.
“So with our first game, talagang naka-focus kami sa Banko Perlas. Siyempre one game at a time, so ayun. Kaya, we are ready,” said the Far Eastern University product.
“Actually lahat [excited ako] makalaban eh, kasi talagang tough talaga ‘yung mga teams na kasali. Saka ‘di ba nga sinabi ko rin na very unpredictable. So ‘di talaga natin alam kung sino ‘yung magcha-champion, but everyone can be a champion,” the three-time V-League Finals MVP added.
And she feels very confident that the team, despite losing key players Alohi Robins-Hardy and Jovelyn Gonzaga, will be performing at its best come game time.
After all, the team never let their guard down during the pandemic despite the uncertainty that the it brought. In fact, the 5-foot-10 spiker out of Rizal bared that the team worked double in their preparations for the first-ever volleyball professional league in the Philippines.
“Actually, we had a two-month preparation. Almost two months ‘yung core preparation namin two months talaga,” Daquis said.
“But siyempre kahit short lang ‘yung preparation namin, siyempre as an athlete, as a Cignal HD Spiker, we did our best during trainings. Tapos personally, nagpapa-condition talaga kami kahit pandemic. So, ayon, pagdating sa court, okay kami. Hindi kami nahirapan, hindi kami back-to-zero. Kahit ganun lang siya kaigsi, nabibigay namin ‘yung best namin. And ‘yun, okay naman ‘yung training namin so far.”
With the team at full strength, Daquis said that it’s only a matter of adjustments come game time. After all, the team — just like all the squads that will be competing in the Open Conference — have not played an official game for almost two years.
“Ako, I’m really ready kasi hindi kami nag-stop. Mas masipag kami nung pandemic kasi gusto namin pagbalik, mas malakas kami. Ang kailangan mo lang mag-adjust is ‘yung dalawang taon kang hindi nakapaglaro. Doon ka lang mag-aadjust,” Daquis shared.
“So, siguro sa first phase ng set or ng time na maglalaro ka talaga na totoong laro na. Pero ready naman. Pinaghandaan natin ‘yan. Hindi tayo nagpabaya.”