Throughout her four-year stay with the University of Santo Tomas, setter Alina Bicar has been inconsistent.
From her rookie year back in the UAAP Season 78 Women’s Volleyball Tournament to the early parts of Season 81, Bicar had shown flashes of sound decision-making but struggled to string consecutive matches of steady setting.
Now, it seems the Leyte-native has found her stride at the most opportune time for the Golden Tigresses.
After shuffling between her and rookie Mafe Galanza, UST head coach Kungfu Reyes has stuck with Bicar these past few weeks, in some of the biggest matches in the program’s recent history.
Bicar was tremendous in UST’s last two matches against the DLSU Lady Spikers.
After tossing 21 excellent sets in the Tigresses’ playoff victory for the twice-to-beat advantage, Bicar was instrumental in their Finals-clinching win over the DLSU Lady Spikers. She provided 23 excellent sets and five points, which included a clutch 1-2 play and an ace in the fifth set.
In Game One of the Finals, Sisi Rondina’s 23-point explosion buried the Ateneo Lady Eagles, but Bicar was equally dominant with 23 excellent sets and five points.
Still, Bicar had no qualms with splitting time with Galanza to start the year. It helped her focus on becoming more consistent.
“For me, wala naman sa akin kung sino ‘yung pinapapasok. Kung siya ‘yung papapasukin, okay. Pero kapag ako ‘yung pinapasok, gusto ko okay ‘yung gagalawin ko, magawa ko ‘yung kailangan kong gawin and matulungan ‘yung team,” the 5-foot-5 playmaker said.
“Gusto naman mabalik ‘yung korona sa España.”
Against Ateneo, Bicar got a boost from a conversation with Rhea Dimaculangan, one of the best setters to come out of the España-based program and the Finals MVP when the Tigresses last won a title in Season 72.
“May game plan naman talaga kami. Siyempre may game plan kami kung paano kami lulusot sa Ateneo. Siguro, may kaunting diskarte na din ‘yun. Hindi naman lahat ng bagay, ‘yung game plan magagamit kasi ganito, ganiyan. Hindi naman lahat ng bola, kailangan doon ilagay. Depende sa sitwasyon,” she shared.
“Nagtiwala lang ako sa spikers ko and nagtiwala lang ako sa sarili ko. Sabi nga ni Ate Rhea (Dimaculangan) sa akin, chinat niya ako kaninang umaga, na magtiwala lang daw sa sarili ko dahil alam niyang kaya ko and magtiwala sa spikers ko.”
Heading into Game Two, possibly UST’s crowning moment, Bicar couldn’t help but look back on the hardships UST has had to endure to get there.
“Nakaka-overwhelm kasi galing kami… Lalo na last year, sobrang hindi maganda ‘yung standing namin,” she recalled.
“Gusto lang talaga namin bumalik ‘yung korona sa España. Malaking tulong din talaga ‘yung mga batang pumasok.”