The closest Eya Laure has ever gotten to the UAAP women’s volleyball crown was in Season 81, when her University of Santo Tomas (UST) battled Ateneo in the finals.
The enduring image of Laure in that series was not one of triumph.
It was of that season’s top rookie being carried off the floor by father Eddie after she fell badly and sprained her ankle.
This year, the versatile hitter has put the Tigresses in the title conversation after leading UST to two streak-busting victories heading into the Holy Week break. And, in what has been credited as the key to UST’s fine form this season, she isn’t doing it alone anymore.
“Last season (Season 84) was very exhausting; I was always tired,” Laure said. “But this time, I can [smile and] say hello to everybody after a game because I have teammates who can help the team.”
Laure was the tournament’s leading scorer last season, when she had to carry a lot of the offense for the Tigresses.
“It cannot be accomplished by relying on just one player. We have to work as a team,” said Laure, the former UST high school anchor who had 29 points on Sunday as the Tigresses snapped a nine-game winning run of league-leading La Salle, 25-19, 14-25, 25-19, 25-12.
A month ago, UST also ended National University’s (NU) multiseason unbeaten streak by dealing the defending champions a 25-23, 27-25, 17-25, 22-25, 15-11 stunner that snapped a string of 20 straight wins.
Laure’s confidence doesn’t merely stem from UST’s ability to find offense from different players like Filipino-Italian Milena Alessandrini, who is making a comeback from an injury, or rookie Regina Jurado. Neither does it come from the ability of setter Cassie Carballo to marshal her hitters.
It also rises from her faith that she no longer fails to make an attacking mistake because she knows her defenders, led by the hyperactive Bernadett “Detdet” Pepito, can cover the floor well behind her.
“I always think that I can hit the ball because whatever happens Detdet’s (Pepito) coverage is there,” said Laure in Filipino.
Alessandrini provided UST with loads of backup ammo, unloading 20 points built on 17 attacks, Carballo tossed 18 excellent sets as she orchestrated UST’s fluid offense. Pepito’s floor coverage netd her 25 digs and 11 receptions.
With UST no longer maxing out its star, the Tigresses have found renewed energy to take on the league’s big guns.
“We play our best during our toughest games,” Pepito said.
Heading into the break, the Tigresses are now trying to sort out one key flaw in their game: That penchant for easing up on the gas pedal after every big win.
“Unlike in round one when we beat NU but failed to bring the momentum in the following game against Adamson, I hope this time—and I feel—that we can [keep this momentum going] because we will triple the effort in training,” said Pepito. INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.