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Popping off the bench: Cortez on filling in for Tunay

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There’s nothing more devastating in sports than injuries. They’re never timely and they halt a player’s progress. However, most great sports stories are born from injuries. Tales of unlikely heroes stepping in their team’s time of need are abundant and are always endearing.

UST’s Chloe Cortez finds herself in the same predicament. The whole UST community held their breath when Mela Tunay went down with a fractured nose in the match against the TIP Lady Engineers. Cortez was probably one of the most concerned for her teammate because she and Tunay are incredibly close, Cortez admits.

Nevertheless, a door was opened for Cortez and she now looks to take full advantage. The fouth-year opposite hitter was pivotal in closing their match against TIP, and was brilliant in her first start of the SVL season as she pitched in 10 points in a sweep of the SSC Lady Stags.

Cortez’s play is anything but unlikely. Chloe worked her way up from UST’s Team B in her first year in España. Through her first three seasons, Cortez was mostly used when Tunay had an off-game, giving the former a chance to fill in nicely for the latter.

“Nakaka-sad kasi ang sama ng pagkawala niya [Tunay]. Pero challenge na rin para sa akin ‘yun kasi in the following years, kailangan ko na mag-step up. Siguro ito na ‘yung time para ma-practice ko ‘yun,” Cortez said about her opportunity.

When asked what she tried to work on over this past off season, Cortez explained that she just tried to polish her game further. “Kung ano ‘yung laro ko, ayun ‘yung pinapalabas ko. Nagkaroon lang ako ng tiwala sa sarili ko.”

UST head coach, Kungfu Reyes is always quick to say that Chloe and Carmela are different players and he would much rather have both of them in the lineup. Cortez acknowledges her coach’s assesment saying that Carmela is a more intense, in-your-face player and Cortez is the type who is just intensely happy to be on the court. “Si Carmela kasi mas leader siya kapag nasa court. Ako tinatry ko lang maging happy para ma-lift ‘yung teammates ko.”

The effervescent wing attacker adds that she always talks to and visits Tunay in the hospital. Having both been on the team for a very long time, the pair have developed their own, crass way of encouraging each other. “Iba kami mag-usap ni Mela eh. Parang ang sinasabi niya lang ‘Kaya mo naman yan Chloe eh, ganoon lang,” Cortez closed when asked what type of advice she gets from her close friend.

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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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