Ateneo and La Salle — two of the fiercest rivals in the local volleyball landscape — are set to clash in the opening weekend of the UAAP Season 82 Women’s Volleyball Tournament.
From the outside looking in, the marquee match looks to be another thrilling chapter of a storied rivalry. But for the crop of young talents entering the age-old league for the first time, it will be their baptism by fire.
And among those neophytes facing an acid test in their collegiate debut is Faith Nisperos, whom many expect to make an immediate impact for Ateneo’s title-retention bid.
Criticisms are, of course, inevitable if she doesn’t live up to expectations. But instead of feeling the pressure, the highly-touted rookie is raring to prove her worth and live out her childhood dream.
“‘Yun nga eh, parang dati napapanood ko lang ‘yung Ateneo-La Salle noon. Tapos right now, I’m going to play with them and against them,” said the 20-year-old Nisperos, who’s also excited at the prospect of her maiden campaign.
“Now you say it, nakaka-overwhelm kasi siyempre sa UAAP ko nakikita ‘yung mga idol ko, mga hinahangaan ko. Tapos right now, I’ll be in the same platform na saan sila naglalaro, so I’m very excited.”
Nisperos is not foreign to collegiate action, though. She has played for the blue and white in the 2019 PVL Collegiate Conference, where she reintroduced herself to the local volleyball community with a string of stellar performances highlighted by a 35-point explosion versus NCAA powerhouse St. Benilde.
“It gave me a little taste of what collegiate competition would be like,” the former Nazareth School of National University standout said.
“So, buti na lang din na at least may image na ko on what will happen, pero siyempre it’s nothing like UAAP.”
Without a doubt, Ateneo is bound for one grueling path back to the throne. And Nisperos is more than ready to help the team’s cause by simply playing to her strengths.
“I know I have a talent in attacking, ‘yun ‘yung strength ko. In short, ‘yun ‘yung role na gagampanan ko. I know na I need to score. Meron akong conscious effort to produce for Ateneo,” the 5-foot-11 spiker bared.
“I just want to fulfill my role sa team, and hopefully sa effort na ‘yun is makakatulong ako to get our goal.”
As a consensus-favorites to win the Rookie of the Year plum, Nisperos instead pointed out: “Awards are just bonus na lang ‘yan. What’s important for me is ‘yung championship talaga kasi being with the team, hindi mo na naiisip ‘yung mga awards na ‘yan kasi you just want to see your teammates thrive together.”
“So ‘yun ‘yung gusto kong makamit namin, ‘yung championship. ‘Yung after a very long journey na mahirap na training, mga pinagdadaanan namin, gusto ko in the end maging worth it siya.”
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