At one game away from the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball crown, University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses head coach Kungfu Reyes knows his team has endured immense amounts of pain, both physical and emotional.
Prior to the season starting, the Tigresses saw captain Tin Francisco suffer an ACL tear that forced her to miss the tournament.
Three matches into the season, Milena Alessandrini suffered a similar fate, knocking the Tigresses further down a peg.
After all that, the Tigresses still reached the Finals behind inspired performances from Reyes’ 13-strong lineup. They could have had the title in their grasp, beating Ateneo in Game One and forcing a 1-1 sets tie in Game Two.
But Fortune was not done with the Tigresses, as rookie ace Eya Laure sprained her left ankle at the onset of the third set, a challenge they could not hurdle.
The Tigresses now move to a Game Three, the biggest match in the proud program’s recent history since winning the title in Season 72.
Though playing underdogs seems to have favored the Tigresses throughout their journey, Reyes wants his team to be fully focused on the last match of the season, rather than its emotional weight.
“Kung ano lang ‘yung nangyari noong Game One, baliktad lang, ganoon lang. Simple as that. Tapos meron pa kaming ‘di inaasahang pagngyayari na naman,” Reyes said.
“So pinilit naming bumalik pero momentum-wise, nasa Ateneo. So no more drama, go back to the drawing board. Move forward.”
Reyes says that Laure will be available for Game Three, though the Rookie of the Year will be playing in some amount of pain. Losing Laure affected his team in Game Two, so Reyes knows another emotional setback will doom them tomorrow.
Tactically, Reyes urges his players to cut down on their errors since Ateneo feasted on their 30 giveaways.
“Doon nag-matter. Nakuha namin yung second set, ganda na, naka-bwelo na kami. ‘Yun nga meron na namang (errors),” said Reyes.
“Siyempre ano eh, ‘May nawala na naman.’ May mga tipong ganoon. Pero we tried to regroup. Hanggang sa bumalik, ang ganda ng balik eh. Pero yun naman, may error na naman, unforced error ulit,” the enlisted Army personnel furthered.
“May mga ganoon namang talagang bagay na hindi namin maiiwasan. Pero again, beautiful problem kasi hindi pa tapos ‘di ba? Extended lang ‘yung series. Ganoon lang naman yun.”