In its slow yet steady rise to relevance in the UAAP for the past several years, University of the East operated under the safety net provided by one of the country’s finest defensive specialists in Kath Arado.
However, the Lady Red Warriors — who are coming off their best campaign in years with a 3-11 finish — have begun life without last season’s Best Libero. And the responsibility of protecting the floor for UE has now fallen on the shoulders of Jasckin Babol.
It’s undeniably a huge pair of shoes to fill, but Babol understands that it is a daunting task she must embrace.
“Sabi ni coach [Karl Dimaculangan], ‘wag lang talaga akong ma-pressure sa position ko sa court kasi mabigat din,” the incoming second-year libero bared. “Sabi niya sa akin na, ‘’Wag mong isipin na pressure si Kath sa ’yo. I-challenge mo lang ang sarili mo na gawin mo ang best mo, gawin mo ang laro mo.’
She then continued, “Sa sarili ko, pupunan ko ang pagkawala ni Ate Kath sa team, kaya kailangan kong mag-double time sa pagkukulang ko.”
Having seen limited action on the court as a reliever for Arado in her rookie season, Babol acknowledges that she has to make do with the modest experience she’s had in the league so far.
“Siguro hindi pa po sapat ang experience kasi short period of time lang naman ‘yung pasok ko sa court last season,” the 5-foot-2 defensive stalwart said.
“Pero na-feel ko ang kaba siguro as a first-timer, ‘yung pressure, ‘yung bigat sa loob as a UAAP player.”
So now, she’s taking on scrimmages and game simulations in training as a means to get a better grasp of the collegiate level of volleyball.
“Sa training sinasanay ko na ang sarili ko na parating may ganoon, para kung maglaro na, masanay na. Masanay na ang sarili mo sa crowd, sa coaches, at tsaka sa kasama.”
Fortunately, she’s still receiving guidance from Arado herself.
“Kung wala siyang training sa Generika-Ayala or sa national team, pumupunta po siya rito and tinuturuan po kami sa mga drills na nakukuha niya dun, and ina-apply din namin dito,” Babol shared.
So it’s unsurprising that Babol is dead-set on carrying Arado’s desire to help UE continue its rise to relevance.
“We are aiming for top four po this season. Siguro pahinay-hinay na ia-angat ang UE,” said the 5-foot-1 Lady Warrior.
“Gusto po naming magbago ang mindset ng tao ‘pag sinabing UE.”