Magical is how veteran setter Iris Tolenada described her first stint with the star-studded F2 Logistics squad in the first-ever Philippine National Volleyball Federation Champions League.
“I love this team,” said Tolenada moments after the Cargo Movers won the PNVF Champions League on Thursday night. “I love my family so much, they’ve welcomed me with open arms the coaches have stuck by my side. My teammates have stuck by my side and I understand why people want to continue playing for these coaches and playing with this team playing with these people.
“They’re all amazing people but on the volleyball court, it’s magic.”
Tolenada, who was coming off a stint with the Choco Mucho alongside Kalei Mau, Tin Tiamzon, and Dawn Macandili, was picked up by F2 Logistics a month prior to the Champions League to fill the void left by injured setter Kim Fajardo.
And it’s safe to say that the 30-year-old Tolenada did not disappoint in her first foray with the Ramil De Jesus-coached squad.
The former Premier Volleyball League Best Setter proved her doubters wrong, winning the Best Setter Award in the six-day tourney. She also finished with 17 excellent sets in the 25-20, 25-20, 25-22, championship-winning victory over Chery Tiggo on the final day of the tournament.
While Tolenada feels that she could’ve done more in the match, she’s just glad to have her new family on her side who stuck with her ups and downs.
“You know we’ve been through a lot in this bubble and today I didn’t have my best game but the great thing about having the team that’s more like a family is that everyone will always have each other’s back and that’s what my teammate did for me today and it just shows how much hard work we put in and it was all worth it,” shared Tolenada, who was the first overall pick in the 2015 Philippine Superliga Draft.
“Every single part of this journey was worth it for us.”
Aside from forming a special bond with her new teammates, Tolenada was also glad to finally play under the legendary De Jesus, who according to her, elevated her game even. Moreover, she’s just happy to just earn the trust of the F2 Logistics tactician in their short time together.
“Playing for coach Ramil has been such a blast,” said the former Motolite setter. “He has made me better which is what I really wanted especially since I just want to elevate my game.
“With his coaching style I’m able to do that and throughout my ups and downs, throughout my short season he stuck with me, he’s trusted me and I’m looking forward to working with him more.”
With her duties with the National team and F2 Logistics now done, Tolenada looks to make the most of her time spending it with her beloved family in the United States.
When that’s all over, she vowed to come back stronger than before as she plans to take her improvement one step at a time.
“Next for me is vacation you guys. I’m about to spoil myself, I’m gonna eat some good food and hopefully, I get to see my family soon back in the States but other than that I’m taking it one step at a time and one day at a time.”