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From spectator to champion: Kayla Williams’ PSL dream come true



“My dream was just to be here, just to play. God is so good,” an emotional Kayla Tianco-Williams said, soaked in champagne, high on her team’s just concluded championship win.

The Canadian-born Fil-Jamaican has always felt a connection to her Filipino roots and, when she got the chance, rushed to the Philippines to see the country for herself . To get to play in the Philippine Superliga, Kayla needed a few breaks to go her way.

“I first heard about the PSL last conference, I was keeping up with league the through social media. I was just like every other fan, and then I got to play and now I’m a champion. This is so amazing, it’s crazy,” Williams said ecstatically.

Williams revealed that PLDT Head Coach and Foton consultant Roger Gorayeb first invited her to play in a tournament in Tuguigarao last July. She played well enough to catch the attention of Foton management.

“They asked me if I wanted to play for Foton in the Grand Prix, and I was all-in immediately. I was only supposed to be here for two weeks so I cancelled my return flight,” Kayla recalled.

Williams had to work her way up the lineup. The Foton Tornadoes started their Grand Prix campaign horrendously, losing three of their first four matches. Seeing that her team needed an offensive jolt, Foton head coach slotted Kayla in one of the starting open hitter spots. The Georgia State University alum repayed her coach’s trust with consistent scoring and defense. Foton then won five of their last six matches as they continued to build their chemistry. All the while, Williams displayed her supreme leaping ability and powerful hitting, shoring up Foton’s deep lineup of locals.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times From spectator to champion: Kayla Williams' PSL dream come true

Seeded fourth entering the quarterfinals, Foton then knocked-off the heavily favored number one seed, Philips Gold Lady Slammers to book their Finals seat. Foton had not defeated Petron prior to the Finals but Williams said she always believed her team could win the championship.

“When they (media, fans) said we were Team Destiny, they really meant it. I remember when we had our first practice,  you could see the potential. It was just a matter of could we actually do it? Could we perform to our highest potential?”

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times From spectator to champion: Kayla Williams' PSL dream come true

In Game One of the best-of-three Finals series, Foton started strong and made all the clutch plays late to put away the defending Grand Prix champs. Petron then turned the tables on their upstart foes in Game Two, handing them a demoralizing loss.

Williams, who had a miserable Game Two, described her team’s razor sharp focus in the days leading up to Game Three.

“We broke down all of Petron’s rotations. From rotation one to rotation six, we studied who was their best attacker, where and how everyone liked to serve, we practiced blocking slide. We even put fake jerseys on some of our teammates and pretended like they were Petron. We practiced and we practiced and we practiced,” Kayla replied passionately while pounding her fist against her other hand.

What people thought was going to be long and grueling match, Foton turned into a fitting coronation, thoroughly drubbing Petron and deflating the proud former champions with every play in three quick sets. After Game Three, Foton took home their first championship in franchise history.

“We came prepared for this match, and it felt good just executing the way we did. Kudos to our coaching staff because they really did an amazing job at getting us prepared in the few days we had,” said Williams.

Like every other Filipino who grew up abroad, Kayla has fallen madly in love with her home country. But Williams expresses her love for her Filipino roots with unrivaled sincerity. “I love it here, I truly do. God is so good. I really just wanted to play here and He gave me all these new experiences and He even brought us to a championship.”

Winning the PSL Grand Prix also makes Foton the Philippines’ representatives to the AVC Club Championships to be held next year in the Philippines. Still just less than an hour from winning a title, Kayla was already excited to represent the Philippines. “If Foton wants me back, if the PSL wants me back, I’m going – no questions asked. I’m ready, I want to represent the Philippines.”


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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