After winning their first UAAP match in two years in Season 78, the University of the East Lady Warriors added reinforcements in the form of two college journeywomen
UE head coach Francis Vicente confirmed earlier today that setter Rica Diolan and hitter Angelica Macabalitao are already enrolled at the Mendiola-based university.
Diolan, a highly-touted recruit coming out of the National University Hugh School, was cut from the NU Lady Bulldogs roster after her rookie year. She then first attempted to transfer to reigning NCAA champions College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers but failed the entrance exam according to numerous sources from within the Saint Benilde coaching staff.
Vicente admitted that he had reached out to Diolan even before she went to Saint Benilde. The veteran head coach got his best shot at securing Diolan when they both represented the country in the Asian U19 tournament earlier this year.
“I remember messaging her immediately when she left NU if she was interested in joining the UE Women’s Volleyball team. Sabi niya nasa ibang school daw ang interest niya,” Vicente recalled.
“Before she played with us sa Under 19, nakarating sa akin na wala na daw siya sa Benilde. Wala naman kaming intention na i-recruit siya, pero sineryoso ng bata na pumunta sa UE. Sinabi ko sa kanya na pag-isipan niya nang maigi kung gusto niya talaga sa UE. All of a sudden, nagpaalam na siya sa pumunta sa UE.”
Whatever Diolan went through with NU or CSB, Vicente wants her to forget about it and start fresh with the Lady Warriors.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, basta ‘yung nakaraan mo, ‘di ko na sagot ‘yun. Kalimutan niya na and focus on making herself better for her new team.”
For starters, Vicente wants Diolan to shed weight.
“Kailangan niyang magpapayat. Masyado siyang mabigat.”
With Macabalitao, Vicente unearthed the story of how the 6’2” hitter used to stay with him before hopping around schools. They met again when Macabalitao suited up for the Generika Lifesavers.
“Nasa Generika yan. Dapat Arellano siya. Nagkaroon daw siya ng problem o issue doon. Hanngang inoffer ko sa kanya kung gusto niya magstudy sa UE and she agreed. Ayoko kasi na may player ako na hindi nakapagtapos,” Vicente recalled adding how Macabalitao went from UE to Arellano before their reunion.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, if you really are serious with playing with us, you have to follow the rules.I’m happy that yung dating player ko na inalis ko, bumalik pa sa akin.”
Known as a strong father figure to most of his past players, Vicente stressed how he wanted to knock the weakness out of his players. Like what he offered to his past wards like Alyssa Valdez, the Santiago sisters, Rhea Dimaculangan among many others, Vicente is giving these two girls the opportunity to turn their life around.
“Ang sa akin kasi, hindi mahalaga kung freshmen sila. Ang mahalaga sa akin ‘yung pananaw nila sa buhay.
“An athlete should be strong – kapag napapagalitan, kapag may pressure. Life is totally challenging in many ways. They have to develop the strength to overcome those. Hindi ‘yung palipat-lipat sila – that’s being weak. ‘Yun ang sinusubukan kong ituro sa kanila,” Vicente concluded.
Even before Season 79 starts, the Lady Warriors now have Season 80 to further look forward to.