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UE seniors hope to have permanently changed team’s culture

For most UAAP teams, three wins are not much of a legacy.

But for the University of the East’s quartet of senior Lady Warriors, three wins in the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball Tournament was the culmination of five years of grief, regret, and perseverance.

During the rookie year of Kath Arado, Judith Abil, Lai Bendong, and Roselle Baliton, Season 77, the Lady Warriors lost all 14 of their matches and only won two sets.

Season 78 seemed just as dire, as UE dropped their first 13 matches. Meanwhile, the trio from Iligan City – Arado, Abil and Bendong – considered leaving UE at the end of the season and returning to their hometown to play for a nearby university.

They ended up finishing the season with a win over Adamson University – a victory that helped change their perspective.

With tweaks to coaching, UE slowly improved. Then by Season 81, they were no longer the league’s laughingstock.

Their 11 losses include two nail-biters against UP and FEU.

They were a 3-11 team that demanded respect from contenders.

UAAP-81-Volleyball-ADMU-vs.-UE-Arado-6162 UE seniors hope to have permanently changed team's culture News UAAP UE Volleyball  - philippine sports news

“Kahit na maraming negative na nagsasabi sa amin na ‘Hindi niyo kaya ‘yan.’ Sa guide din ng coaches namin, nasabi namin sa sarili namin na sobrang tibay ng team namin,” declared Arado, the best bet to win Best Libero this season.

“Iba ‘yung feeling ‘pag sa ibang tao na nanggaling ‘yung mga negative thoughts kasi siyempre, maiisip mo na hindi naman nila nakita kung ano ‘yung paghihirap ng team. Kumapit kami. Part din kami doon sa team na ang laki ng improvement. Sobrang blessing sa aming mga senior ‘yun.”

“Nagbabago naman na ‘yung attitude dahil sa mga coaches namin, kasi gusto muna nila mabago ‘yung attitude namin, ‘yung pagtingin namin sa sarili namin. Wala naman ding ibang maniniwala sa amin kundi kami-kami lang din,” added Baliton.

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For the Iligan City trio, staying in UE has paid off since they have earned the respect of fans and opponents alike.

UAAP-81-Volleyball-ADMU-vs.-UE-Bendong-5978 UE seniors hope to have permanently changed team's culture News UAAP UE Volleyball  - philippine sports news

“Noong una, hindi talaga kami sanay na laging talo kasi hindi kami sinanay. Sa amin kasi, nasa champion team kami, nagpa-Palaro, ganiyan. Pagdating dito, pinakadulo. Kapag hindi dulo, sumunod naman sa dulo. Dulo pa rin,” recalled Bendong.

“So far naman, nakaka-ano din kasi chinallenge kami ng coaches namin sa high school noon na kung tunay kayong champion, kaya niyong hawaan ‘yung mga kasama niyo ng champion’s mentality, parang ganoon. No regrets talaga ako na nag-UE ako. ‘Yung three wins namin, nakaka-proud kasi sa batch namin nangyari ‘yung three wins.”

“‘Yung time na parang gusto naming umalis, pero kumapit pa rin kami sa feeling na thoughts namin na gusto baguhin ‘yung tingin nila sa UE. Natutunan talaga naming mga senior ‘yung tibay ng loob. Kahit anong mangyare, nandoon kami para sa isa’t isa. Kailangan naming gampanan ‘yung role namin as a senior. Mahirap, pero hindi din ako nagsisi na nasa UE ako ngayon,” added Arado.

“‘Yung five years namin na journey sa UE, kahit gusto na naming umalis kasi sa province kami galing and naho-homesick kami. Kami, lagi kaming nag-uusap kung ano ba ‘yung first reason na pumunta kami sa UE. Siyempre, mag-aral at maglaro sa UAAP. Doon kami kumakapit at una naming binabalikan,” recalled Abil.

“Kahit sobrang daming struggle kasi nasa pinaka-ilalim kami kasi hindi kami sanay na walang panalo. Ngayon, ga-graduate kami na masarap sa feeling na nasa UE kami. After five years, natapos namin ‘yung UAAP na ‘di kami sumuko.

And this mentality is what they want to impart to the next generation of Lady Warriors.

Written By

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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