BACARRA, Ilocos Norte — Seventeen years ago, Ging Balse and University of Santo Tomas ruled the inaugural Shakey’s V-League in 2004 at the Lyceum Gym.
Fast forward to the present day, Balse-Pabayo has gone full circle, with Black Mamba-Army playing in the Premier Volleyball League’s historic professional season.
The 38-year-old middle blocker is honored to witness how Sports Vision took volleyball to greater heights in itst 17 years in the sport.
Although Army only has a special guest license from Games and Amusement Board, Pabayo is still glad the country finally has a professional volleyball league.
“Ito na yung start ng volleyball,” Pabayo said. “Paunti-unti para yung mga bagong batang gusto pumasok sa volleyball, sana tuloy-tuloy na to.”
She added, “Sobrang saya kasi biglang dinagdagan ulit ngayon na yung PVL naging professional na siya yung tipong. Nag-isa na lahat ng teams."
The Army sergeant confessed she almost missed this historic moment inside the Ilocos Norte bubble after being inactive from playing the sport for more than a year, no thanks to the ongoing pandemic.
But volleyball is life for the pandemic frontliner, even in these trying times.
“Kasi nung una talaga parang nag-give up na ko, parang hindi muna ako maglaro, ganun. Pero nung time na yun, hindi nawala sa akin yung pagvo-volleyball ko,” said Pabayo, holding back her tears. "Parang dugo na talaga sa akin."
She continued, “Nag-try ako mag-training muna tapos biglang niline up ako ni coach. Sabi ko, sige, challenge ‘to kung kaya ko pa naman sarili ko, ng katawan ko at ng isip ko, go ako. Ngayon hindi naman one hundred percent na physically fit pero gagawin ko yung best ko para makatulong sa kanila."
Career of Ging Balse comes full circle
Pabayo’s career has come full circle from the V-League to PVL after she scored back-to-back attacks that saved Army from a late game collapse and beat BaliPure in four sets for its first Open Conference victory on Tuesday at the PCV Socio-Civic and Cultural Center.
The 5-foot-11 middle blocker, who finished with nine points, was emotional after realizing she’s still got it — and even more when she realized that the Lady Troopers trust her, even in the most crucial moments of the game.
“Sobrang laki din ng tiwala nila sa sarili ko. Ginawa ko lang yung best ko siguro, matagal na tayo naglalaro kumbaga ano na yung gamay mo. Hindi naman sila nagdadalawang isip na (ibigay yung bola),” she said. “Parang gaan, matagal na kami magkakakilala alam na namin yung galaw ng isa’t isa kaya kumapit talaga kami.”
The Lady Troopers hold a 1-1 win-loss record tied with Sta. Lucia and Petro Gazz in this short bubble conference.
Black Mamba-Army is not as star-studded and not as fully-prepared and young as their rival teams, but Pabayo said they are up for the challenge.
“Mas challenging ngayon. Sobra kasi maraming batang malalakas pa sa atin at siyempre dati ibang iba. Pero ako naman masaya ako kasi gusto ko yung malalakas na kalaban, challenge yan para sa sarili mo at para sa team namin,” she said. “Basta kahit malakas sila, laro lang. Matira matibay lang talaga.”
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