THE pressure is on for talented EJ Laure as she makes her much-anticipated college debut with University of Santo Tomas when the UAAP Season 77 volleyball tournament unfurls on November 22.
The reigning UAAP juniors MVP made waves as a guest player of UST in the Shakey's V-League and is now counted upon to lead a resurgence for the once-mighty Tigresses in the UAAP after resisting offers from other schools to stay in Espana, just as she had promised.
For veteran Carmela Tunay, the 16-year-old daughter of PBA player Eddie Laure is the real deal.
“EJ Laure has been showing us very good games. Hopefully, we jell as a team and make it to the Final Four again,” the 19-year-old Tunay, one of the mainstays of the Tigresses squad, told Spin.ph.
Tunay noted that Laure held her own against more experienced rivals in tournaments outside the UAAP such as the V-League and that the young spikers’ energy can rub off on the elder Tigresses.
“Sobrang sipag kasi niya,” Tunay related. “’Yung pinapakita niya, in terms of attacks, hindi siya nagpapahuli. May initiative siya. Tapos ngayon, nagdo-double time siya sa defense at nakaka-cope up siya. Malaki ang naco-contribute niya sa team.”
“Kahit medyo seniors na kami sa team, kakaiba ’yung nadadala niya sa team kasi ang tapang niya. Kami sumasabay na rin sa kanya,” added Tunay.
After a disappointing 5-9 win-loss slate last season that saw them miss out on the Final Four, the Tigresses look to bounce back and reclaim lost glory starting with the match against University of the East in the season opener at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But Tunay noted that even with the boost from Laure’s arrival, the route to the semifinals will still be a tough one for the Tigresses.
“We have to expect na lang nothing kasi iniisip din namin na hindi lang kami ‘yung nagte-train. Pero pagdating naman sa competition, pantay-pantay na kaming lahat. All of us are hoping din sa UST kasi pinaghandaan din namin ’yung UAAP,” Tunay said.