Setter is arguably the hardest position to play in volleyball, as they get a touch on the ball in every rally.
Ateneo has had the luxury of dynamic setters in the past nine UAAP seasons, with three-time Best Setter Jem Ferrer and two-time UAAP champion Jia Morado.
Thus, Deanna Wong faces a lot of pressure after taking over as starting playmaker this season.
Three games in and Wong has been performing admirably, considering her squad’s struggles in the back row. Wong currently ranks as the league’s third best setter, a marvelous achievement since the Lady Eagles are seventh in both receiving and digging.
“Knowing our team, receive talaga ang weakness namin. Expectation ko lang is hindi maganda ‘yung receive, so parang always the first ball nage-expect na ako na bad receive so I have to chase the ball every time. Kung kaya naman, hahabulin ko talaga,” the second-year Lady Eagle told Tiebreaker Times about her mindset.
“It just needs getting used to lang. As the games go on, parang nawawala na ‘yung kaba ko and I get to focus better on the game at hand.”
The 19-year old has also been actively seeking out advice from Morado, whom she considers a legend. Like Wong, Morado faced scrutiny after taking up Jem Ferrer’s spot.
“Ate Jia really helped me mentally, most importantly. Kaya ko naman, pero I need confidence din. Coming from her, one of the greatest setters, it’s an honor talaga,” the product of University of San Jose-Recoletos shared.
“From what she told me, it’s a lot of pressure talaga to fill the shoes of a legend. I call her a legend (Morado). I think of it na lang na I have to step up. That makes it easier for me. Iba kami so I’ll just play my game.”
Morado is all praises for Wong’s play, so far. More than anything, Morado has been guiding her young Padawan through the mental aspects of playing in high-pressure situations.
“We talk a lot naman kahit last season pa. She asks me for tips and how she feels on the court, nire-review sa akin on how to deal with it,” said the Season 77 Best Setter.
“I think that’s a good sign naman na she wants to be at her best state – ‘yung state of mind niya, if she’s at peace sa loob ng court. Gusto niya talagang makuha kung paano ‘yun. Kasi she knows na if she’s panicking, she’s not playing at her best.
“Deanna’s been playing very well,” the Creamline Coll Smasher insisted. “You can see naman na she’s trying to improve on the things she lacks. You can also see na she’s doing her best to adjust kung anuman ‘yung first ball or defense na makuha niya.”
With the praise she received from Morado, Wong knows that she just has to continue putting in the work.