Having lost Sisi Rondina to graduation, UST head coach Kungfu Reyes has been in search of a leader who can rally the Tigresses during testing times.
Thankfully, he did not need to look far.
During the fifth set of their Game Three match-up against Ateneo, EJ Laure took the challenge by the throat. She then hammered down the differential hits to help UST book the first Finals ticket in the PVL Collegiate Conference, Sunday.
It was reminiscent of the EJ Laure who led UST in the UAAP two years ago.
“Aside [from] doon sa points, ‘yung leadership ‘yun ‘yung tinitignan namin kasi nawala na yung ka-batch niya eh, si Sisi [Rodina]. So ‘yun ‘yung mga malaking factor na nagma-matter,” Reyes said.
“Matagal siyang nawala. Wala siya nung nandiyan yung mga rookie, nung nagde-develop kami. Pero kahit papaano nandoon na kami sa seventy-five to eighty-percent ng jelling with the team kay EJ.”
With the score knotted at 13-all and Ateneo looking to steal the game, Laure delivered down an emphatic hit to put UST at match-point.
Though Faith Nisperos rallied Ateneo, the 22-year-old Laure stayed composed. She converted an off-the-block attack to place the Tigresses at match point once more.
That then made all the difference for UST, as Ponggay Gaston’s attack went out in the ensuing play which sealed the deal for the Tigresses.
For Laure, as one of the few veterans in this young UST squad, she believes that it is her responsibility to guide the pack and be rock in crucial moments for the younger players. Still, she feels no pressure with the duty as she tries to make up for lost time.
“Siyempre doon makikita kung ano ka talaga as a player, kung gaano katatag yung dibdib mo. So ‘yun, parang tinry kong i-lift up [sila]. Siyempre sama-sama na rin kami,” said Laure, who finished the match with 11 points along with 13 excellent digs and 10 excellent receptions.
“Para sa akin, wala naman kasi yun naman talaga yung role ko as a veteran sa team. Kung paano ko sila i-guguide.”