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Lazaro on her beach volleyball debut, the UAAP, and BVR

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To the delight of her long-time fans, former Ateneo Lady Eagle Denden Lazaro stepped out after months of volleyball inactivity to participate in the Beach Volleyball Republic Women’s Open tournament last Saturday.

Lazaro had last played competitively for the PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitters in the Shakey’s V-League Open Conference last June. Since then, Lazaro has been busy pursuing a Medical Degree.

Pairing up with her former Ateneo teammate, Fille Cainglet-Cayetano, the former UAAP Best Receiver and Digger beamed and let out giggles through all three of their matches for the day.

“Sobrang hinihingal ako,” Lazaro said laughingly. “Siguro ang huling ko pang hawak ng bola was two months ago, I’ve just been working out. Ngayon lang din kami nagkita ni Fille. But she’s been training for beach volley for the past weeks.”

Cainglet and Lazaro played valiantly but wound up with a 1-2 record in a highly-competitive Pool B, just out of the semifinals, after Day One.

Still, playing with Cayetano, Lazaro says, helped her enjoy her first time playing competitive beach volleyball and brought her back to their student-athlete days. “Back in Ateneo I used to just train with Alyssa (Valdez) and Bea (Tan) when they were preparing for UAAP but this was my first time playing competitively. Sobrang saya, especially playing with Fille. I really enjoyed playing with her in Ateneo and it’s great that I get to play with her again now. Sobrang saya niya maging teammate – we just have fun, no pressure, and she helped me a lot because I’m a noob with beach volley.”

Although Lazaro is still unsure of her plans regarding playing competitive volleyball after the tournament, she admittedly wants to help BVR by growing a beach volleyball culture locally. “I really want to help BVR in promoting beach volleyball here in the Philippines. They want to start a beach volleyball circuit here and also start a grassroots program to get a lot of kids into the sport which I think is very important. I really enjoy the sport and I think what they’re doing is great so I really want to help however I can.”

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Lazaro on her beach volleyball debut, the UAAP, and BVR

Next year also marks Lazaro’s first UAAP season out of college. The Lady Eagles are currently in their annual Thailand training camp to prepare for the UAAP grind – a trip which Lazaro says she misses most. “I definitely miss the rigorous trainings we had. Every day was such a challenge and we really worked hard to improve. I was texting with Ella (De Jesus) and we were talking about how we were going to feel once we watch a game. I definitely miss my teammates and the camaraderie we had,” Lazaro told adding that even if she hasn’t watched the current Lady Eagles play or train, she’s confident that they’ll be ready to defend the throne and earn a third consecutive title.

“With how hard Coach Tai’s (Bundit) trainings are, I think we’re always going to have a chance. I’m sure other teams prepare hard as well, but I have faith in the girls that they’ll do their best and they’re still going to be one of the best teams.”

The Lady Eagles will surely miss Lazaro’s defensive presence, as she had been one of the best liberos to hit the UAAP’s taraflex courts. Lazaro, however, is confident with whoever takes her spot as the Lady Eagles’ main back row player.

“They’re training Jamie Lavitoria and Gizelle Tan to take over. Regardless of whoever winds up starting, I think they’re going to do fine given how Coach Tai will train and prepare them. I got my confidence from all the training and preparation we did and I think they’ll be just as confident as I was when the season comes.”

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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