Playing as a starter for the very first time, on a stage as big as the UAAP taraflex, is as nerve-wracking as it gets.
The improbable scenario became reality for UP Lady Maroon Marianne Sotomil, who caught wind of a surprising news hours before Sunday’s clash between UP and the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses.
“Kanina lang po kasi I think na-dehydrate lang po si ate Ayel [Estrañero]. Hindi lang po kami sure kung anong nangyayari,” recalled Sotomil, referring to when she heard of the precarious situation, minutes after UP’s streak-ending defeat at UST’s hands.
Before the game, UP head coach Godfrey Okumu confirmed that Ayel Estañero had suffered from food poisoning, Saturday evening. She was deemed not fit to play against UST the day after.
In lieu of the battle-tested setter, the 5-foot-2 Sotomil was given the daunting task of filling in the role of setter for a high-octane UP offense that features the monster trio of Tots Carlo, Justine Dorog, and Isa Molde, among others.
For her part, just like every rookie, Sotomil admitted that she experienced the jitters upon hearing the news that she would be starting for the first time in the UAAP. But her strong desire to help the team was more than enough for her to shrug it off and bring forth her usual play.
“Siyempre po, as a rookie, meron ibang feeling like kaba… Actually, iba po talaga kapag UAAP na eh, unlike sa preseason tournaments na sinalihan ko,” the 18-year-old confided. “Pero kailangan ko lang din panindigan yung opportunity na makapaglaro kasi wala si ate Ayel.
“Andoon yung kaba pero kailangan ko rin mag-step up para sa mga seniors namin.”
Moreover, a change in mindset also did wonders for the 18-year-old.
“So, nasa dugout palang, na mindset ko na yung sarili ko na kailangan ko panindigan yung opportunity na ‘to. Yun lang, proper mindset lang.”
As it turns out, Sotomil is no stranger to setting the table for her teammates; she’d had her fair share of playmaking duties during their stints in the off-season.
She tossed 32 excellent sets for the potent UP offense, despite the four-set loss that Golden Tigresses dealt Lady Maroons. And it is safe to say that UP have a promising setter who is more than ready to take the reins once the veteran Estrañero exhausts her playing years.
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