In last Saturday’s Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Collegiate Conference opener, the UST Tigresses came up short in Kung Fu Reyes’ coaching debut in their 25-11, 27-25, 19-25, 25-20 defeat at the hands of the undermanned Ateneo Lady Eagles.
Pam Lastimosa led UST with 14 points and 4 blocks while Ej Laure followed up with 13 points and 3 blocks. In addition, Carmela Tunay chipped in 11 points and 9 digs.
“Normal lang at walang masyadong ineexpect sa mga bata. Ang aim is to win pero hindi naman namin pwede ipilit iyon,” said Reyes when asked about his assessment of the team after game. “Nandoon na nga kami, kung makikita niyo sa second set. Iyong first set talaga wala kaya kapag nag-start kami ng pangit nahihirapan kaming makarecover. Kung gusto namin mag-end up ng good, we must have a good start.”
The long road back
Since winning their last UAAP title in 2011 and their V-League title in 2010, it was an uphill battle for UST in capturing another string of volleyball championships.
In the succeeding V-League seasons after 2010, the Tigresses managed to end up at first runner-up during the 1st Conference of its 9th season, at second runner-up during the 1st conference of the 10th season and a third runner-up finish during last year’s 11th season.
On the other hand, the Tigresses have yet to taste another championship since the Aiza Maizo era in the UAAP. After their championship season back in Season 73, UST came up short in the ensuing seasons as they had a 3rd place finish in Season 74, a 5th place finish in Season 75, a 6th place finish in Season 76 and another 5th place finish in last year’s Season 77.
But now, everyone gets a fresh breather with Reyes paving the way in fine-tuning UST’s arsenal. The individual skills are already present in the athletes but the willpower and mental toughness is not yet.
“Ang emphasis ko sa kanila is kung popularity tayo or maturity? Siyempre ang sagot nila is maturity,” Reyes further elaborated. “Kapag dikdikan mahihirapan kami bumalik kasi iyong killing instincts ng bata wala pa pero ang skills nandoon naman. Ang maturity kasi nila hindi pa nararamdaman kaya more on character-building kami sa team.”
Grasping holistic improvements
Admitting that his plans for the team will take time develop, Reyes hopes that they must have the necessary patience to approach things one step at a time. With the massive influx in the competitiveness of the collegiate volleyball scene today, UST must focus on its long-term goals to ensure its sustainability in future contests.
“Sana maka-bounce back kami sa mga next games namin at magkakaroon dapat ng improvement. Nandiyan naman ang mga skills namin pero iyong [cohesion] as a team mayroon din dapat improvement. Kung mananalo kami, ang susunod naman na tanong doon is convincing ba ang panalo namin? Or mas mahina naman ang kalaban?,” Reyes remarked. “So binibigyan ko ng mensahe ang mga bata na hindi namin dapat kailangan makalaro ng mahinang team para manalo. Ang kailangan namin is kami ang magpapalakas.”
Furthermore, Reyes also expects wing spikers Lastimosa and Tunay, his team’s seniors, to take charge in leading the group inside the court since he can only do so much. With their participation during the 2015 Philippine Superliga (PSL) All-Filipino Conference for the Foton Tornadoes and the Cignal HD Spikers respectively, the knowledge they gained from it will surely be a big plus for UST.
“Hindi naman labanan ng coaches ito kasi labanan ito ng mga players. Dapat sila [Lastimosa and Tunay] na ang reyna dito kasi sila na ang nasa fifth year nila. Ang mangyayari, kung paano ko sila napapanood noong nakaraang laro nila, ganoon pa rin,” Reyes quipped. “May nagbago naman pero hindi ko pa nararamdaman.”
With everything said and done, UST will attempt to secure its first win and continue its V-League campaign as they are set to face the De La Salle University Dasmariñas Lady Patriots this coming Saturday, 12:45 pm, at the Filoil Flying V Arena.