Jian Salarzon had a good start in his first year donning Ateneo de Manila University colors from the off-season and to the sands.
The Bacolod City native, who caught people’s attention when he showed up for the MRT Negros in the 2021 Philippine National Volleyball Federation’s Champions League, showed his potential in the VLeague Collegiate Challenge and helped the Blue Eagles to a fourth-place finish.
Salarzon and Amil Pacinio then secured Ateneo’s first-ever podium finish in UAAP Beach Volleyball by taking the bronze over Far Eastern University, and, in the process, the upstart bagged the Rookie of the Year award.
Nonetheless, the outside hitter felt at a loss when he started playing back at the Taraflex for the Men’s Volleyball tournaments this time.
“I’m happy that I’m able to show my best because in our first few games in the first round, I didn’t feel like I was playing my best game,” Salarzon admitted.
“It’s like I wasn’t confident with how I was playing.”
However, he helped his team indeed, as after suffering a sorry defeat to University of Santo Tomas,
Salarzon and the rest of the Blue Eagles flexed their wings, figuratively, and their wingers, literally, in a straight-set romp of the University of the Philippines on March 19 to end the first round.
The 6-foot-3 winger bagged the Player of the Game honors in that bounce-back win against the Fighting Maroons, scoring 17 points in 14 attacks and three blocks.
Ateneo then carved its first winning streak the following Sunday after bouncing back from a set deficit against the University of the East to take the game in four.
And once more, Salarzon was the top scorer with 21 points. For him, it was all about having the proper outlook and motivation.
“My mindset is to work harder for the team so that I can contribute more. Also, to win games for our team,” he shared.
“I always think about our goals as a team this UAAP season and my purpose for being in Ateneo.”
The Blue Eagles want to keep their streak alive of six consecutive Final Four appearances since Season 76, and with players like Salarzon taking over the game when it mattered, the one big fight is starting to unfold.