In their first match of the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference, the National University Lady Bulldogs were able to shake off a slow first set in their match against the UP Lady Maroons, eventually coming up with the win as they defeated their opponents in four sets.
Fans were greeted with some old faces of the Lady Bulldogs. Playing once again for her alma matter was Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Jaja Santiago’s older sister. Recent graduate, and former setter for the Lady Bulldogs, Ivy Perez also took part in the match.
But with Ive Perez’s departure from the collegiate ranks, someone will have to take her place once the UAAP season begins. Luckily for NU, they didn’t have to look far for a replacement. Rica Diolan recently graduated from NU high school, and as luck would have it she played the setter position for the school, and just last season she led the Lady Bullpups to a UAAP championship.
In an interview with Tiebreaker Times, Rica shared that it was difficult for her in the early goings of the match, as she is not yet used to the college level of competition. Aside from that, she found it hard setting up her teammates’ attacks due to their differences in height.
“Super, kasi first time ko maglaro sa college. Marami pa akong kailangan i-adjust lalo na iba-iba yung height spikers ko. Kailangan ko talagang i-adjust,” shared Rica.
Fortunately she was able to calm her nerves and get her head into the game with the help of her teammates who motivated her to do better.
“[Sa first set] hindi ko pa masyado makuha. Pero ang maganda kasi sa game kanina sobrang competitive kaming lahat. Wala masyadong nag-i-ingay, parang relax lang kami. Makikita mo yung push namin sa isa’t-isa. Talagang pantay-pantay.”
Falling a game short of entering the Finals in last year’s UAAP season, it seemed like the team was just a player short of becoming really good. It was believed that the one thing NU lacks is a really good setter. The team already has a plethora of weapons, from the towering Jaja Santiago to the might of Myla Pablo. All the team needs is someone to set them up for a perfect attack.
Rica is already starting to feel the pressure as she has to deal with her inexperience coupled with the expectations of the people around her, but she believes that she’ll be able to get through it all with the help of her coach.
“Medyo napre-pressure ako. Kasi para sa akin yung setter dapat yung heart ng team. Without a setter, mahihirapan yung malalakas na spikers. Ang dami kong kailangang gawin, tapos bata pa ako. Pero mapaghahandaan ko yun dahil kay Coach Roger.”