After an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury prematurely ended her maiden campaign in the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, Lycha Ebon is looking to make up for lost time when Far Eastern University charges into the forthcoming collegiate wars.
The incoming sophomore is set to return to action for the Lady Tamaraws once the competition goes into full swing. She will serve as a spark plug in head coach George Pascua’s rotation to start the season, coming off the bench for starter Ivana Agudo.
In one of FEU’s early morning practices at the R. Papa Gym back in January, Ebon was relishing her time back on the court. She wholeheartedly participated in drills and game simulations after sitting out for a long span of time.
“Siyempre po happy kasi more than eight months akong na-standby diyan sa gilid, nanonood lang sa kanila noong PVL. Hindi ako nakalaro,” admitted Ebon, who just received clearance to return to the playing field at the start of the year.
Of course, she is still far from her peak form.
The crafty, punch-packing lefty opposite spiker was still not her usual self on the court during practice. Her attacks were out of sorts, struggling with her approach while jumping with little elevation.
Well, it was normal for someone who has just returned from an injured ACL, which affects the range of motion and stability of one’s leg. But though she’s still regaining her form, Ebon admitted that she no longer feels pain in her right knee.
“‘Di naman siya sumasakit ‘pag naglalaro. ‘Yun bang nalalamigan, normal lang naman raw ‘yun pag na-operahan.”
There’s no denying that Ebon has plenty of ground to cover in order to reintegrate herself into Pascua’s rotation. And she’s well aware of that.
“May kulang pa po talaga. Madami pa po akong hahabulin kasi siyempre, naiwan ako ng ilang months sa kanila. Kaya ‘yun, pray lang po ako parati,” she pointed out.
But most importantly, the proud daughter of Davao is willing to take the necessary steps to get better day after day.
“Sa kung saan ako na-injure, doon ako medyo nahihirapan sa pag-land ko, kaya doon ako nag-focus ako ngayon sa therapy ko doon,” she said.
Ebon has been through a lot for the past several months, so there’s no point in stopping, especially now that she’s back playing the sport she loves.
“Sa eight months na ‘yun, hindi po madali. Sobrang may ups and downs po ako na sa eight months na ‘yun, ‘yung therapy ko, akala ko andoon na ako pero biglang may sumakit. Gan’un lang, baba na ulit,” Ebon recalled.
“Tapos sa eight months na ‘yun, inisip ko nalang na, ‘Bakit ko sasayangin?’ Kaya ngayon na okay na ako, siyempre all out ako. Kailangan hindi ako magiging rason ng pagkatalo ng team.”
Ebon has the right disposition while treading through such a grueling path to complete recovery. But admittedly, she still has to toughen up mentally, which would help put behind the nightmarish episodes of her young career.
Fortunately for Ebon, she has her teammates and coaches to lean on.
“Siyempre ngayon, sabi nila coach na okay na tuhod ko. ‘Yung problema na lang ‘yung utak, psychological,” she confessed. “Tapos sabi nila, ‘walain mo na ‘yan, kaya na ‘yan.’
“Kaya pina-practice ko ‘yung sarili ko na ‘pag sinalang diyan sa court, walang iniisip na injury.
She then furthered, “Inuulit ni coach ‘yun na, ‘wala kang injury, ‘di ka na injured’ para lumabas ‘yung laro ko talaga. Kaya pina-practice ko naman po ‘yung mindset na gan’un na normal lang.”
Still, expectations are high for Ebon. With the departure of Heather Guino-o, Jerrili Malabanan and Kyle Negrito — as well as the absence of Chin Basas, Carlota Hernandez, and Ced Domingo for the season — she’s expected to take a larger role in the team.
But she’s putting no pressure on herself despite the season growing closer by the minute. Instead, she will simply give it her all and be what the team needs her to be.
“Ang sa akin lang po, simula dati, gusto ko lang tumulong sa team ko, gan’un. Ngayon na hindi naman ako starting six, ang akin lang ay quality,” Ebon stressed.
“Hindi naman po sila nage-expect na mag-boom ako kaagad. Ang sinasabi lang nila na, ‘Gusto lang namin na makatulong ka sa team.'”
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