After scoring 15 points in a huge five-set comeback win over UST, the UP Lady Maroons’ open spiker Nicole Tiamzon reflected on the match and her team’s incredible season.
“People will say na walang expectations from us so walang pressure,” said the 19-year old team captain of the Lady Maroons. “Ayaw din naman namin natatalo. Syempre who wants to be in last place? Wala di ba?”
Against Final Four contender UST, the Tigresses looked sharp in the first set as they didn’t allow UP to get into a rhythm. Tiamzon herself was held to one point. “I thought they did a very good job of blocking me and anticipating my movements. Nung hindi ako maka-score inisip ko tutulong ako sa ibang bagay – sadefense, sa receiving, at sa blocking. Pero nung second set, nakapag-adjust na ako.”
During Season 76, Tiamzon was the team’s setter and she now acknowledges that it helped her tremendously in making better reads and moving around to find her spot.
“Team game ang volleyball,” explained UP head coach Jerry Yee. “But hindi ko alam kung saan kami aabutin kung wala si Nicole.”
With the 5’5” dynamo finding the range, Tiamzon’s teammates began to hum along in a cohesive team effort. Angeli Araneta shut down Marivic Meneses in addition to delivering timely hits. Marian Buitre and Vina Alinas also added huge points in turning back UST that took a two-sets-to-one lead.
Despite being down, the Lady Maroons didn’t show any fear or the tentativeness that characterized previous seasons.
“Even before the season began, nagusap kami ng teammates ko na kailangancommitted lahat sa pagangat namin as a team. We knew we could achieve things,” related Tiamzon.
Even if the Lady Maroons are no longer catching teams off guard, Tiamzon, who is taking up Sports Science at Diliman, believes her team can still go farther despite the loss of middle hitter Kathy Bersola to a season-ending knee injury. “We wish Kathy were in the game for us pero ganyan talaga ang sports – injuries are part of the game. And babalik ako dun sa bago magsimula yung season at nagusap kaming lahat na kapit lang.”
At 5-7 and in third place, the UP Lady Maroons have two more matches – against FEU and National University, which all remain in the hunt for a Final Four slot. “Malaking bagay na nanalo kami sa UST kasiconfidence booster yun for us after being down and it puts us in a better position for the Final Four.Mahirap pero may kasabihan na masarap mag-celebrate kapag pinaghirapan mong makuha yung isang bagay. Laban lang.”
Go down fighting?
“Kaya may ‘Fighting’ bago nang ‘Maroons’ di ba,” Tiamzon said, smiling.
- This originally appeared on philstar.com, article by Rick Olivares.
(Photo by Rick Olivares)