Elaine Kasilag could hardly utter words when asked about the experience of being alongside this generation’s favorite volleyball stars. After all, it was the first time she will be able to showcase her skills on the Shakey’s V-League stage.
Surprised and a bit nervous during the interview, it was as if her tears would fall even before she could open her mouth and speak. Understandably, being on the same page as today’s biggest stars she’d only get a glimpse on television was a surreal moment for the Biñan-based spiker.
“Excited. Kinakabahan rin kasi first time,” Kasilag said a few moments before PLDT Home Ultera took Team Baguio for the squad’s Season 12 Open Conference debut.
Growing up in Lipa City, Batangas where volleyball could rival basketball in terms of followership and influence, Kasilag inevitably plunged into volleyball action when she was in fourth grade.
It didn’t take observers too long to notice her potential, thus Kasilag landed a spot in the University of Perpetual Help – Laguna volleyball roster.
While the V-League is her first taste of semi-pro competition, the outside hitter already has an illustrious amateur volleyball career in the bag. Kasilag has won both indoor and beach volleyball championships in the NCAA South tournament, and in 2014 represented the country along with Cherry Rondina, Gretchen Ho, and Michelle Datuin in the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Zonal Qualifiers — a part of the long process toward the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The 20-year-old lass bared that a few other teams also wanted to get the 5-foot-10 spiker, but instead she chose PLDT, which bannered a star-studded lineup with a combination of tested veterans and top collegiate stars like Lizlee Ann Pantone, Denden Lazaro, Jem Ferrer, Rubie De Leon, Sue Roces, Louann Latigay, Sasa Devanadera, and Jaja Santiago.
With the absence of Alyssa Valdez, Amanda Villanueva, and Gretchel Soltones for Sunday’s affair, Kasilag was named a starter in the game against Baguio; she immediately took advantage of the opportunity to let the Philippine volleyball world know more about what she can do.
“Ito na,” Kasilag said, still nervous. “Andito na tayo, ito ang isa sa mga dreams ko, kaya gawin na ang dapat gawin.”
Kasilag’s big break finally came, and she did not hesitate to make it her own show. She finished with seven points to help the Ultrafast Hitters book an opening day win, 25-10, 25-16, 25-21. It took the team only 64 minutes to dispatch its foe.
“So far, oo naman, kasi hindi pa nga ako graduating e,” she shared on why this stint is one of the biggest breaks she will ever receive. “Okay naman ung PLDT in practice, may bonding na. Pati mga coaches, okay. Siguro napansin na rin sa mga try-out or sa iba ko pang nilalaruan.”
Striving hard to be where she is at the moment, Kasilag feels she is already home.