RIA Meneses bounced back with a vengeance on Sunday, atoning for a poor performance against La Salle by providing the inspiration in University of Santo Tomas' straight-set win over University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 79 women's volleyball tournament.
The fourth-year middle blocker came under fire from UST coach Kungfu Reyes after being held to one block while playing limited minutes in the Tigresses' loss to the Lady Spikers in midweek.
But Meneses looked a totally different player in the 25-20, 25-21, 25-16 win over the Lady Maroons, where she finished with 10 points behind eight blocks - double that of the Maroons.
Her blocks also matched the season-high set by National University star Jaja Santiago.
“Siguro, grabe lang din ang push sa akin nina coach saka ng mga parents ko. Grabe nila ako paalalahan after ng game naming sa La Salle,” said Meneses, the only UST player to be named to the national women's volleyball pool.
“Parang lagi nilang pinu-push na huwag panghinaan ng loob, ilabas mo lang ang natural na laro,” she added.
Reyes, who ripped into Meneses for her lack of aggressiveness after the game, wasn't too generous with praise even after his top blocker's performance.
“Siguro maganda ang gising ni Ria, alam naman niya kung paano mag-block. May mga times lang na mabigat ang pakiramdam. Pero ang importante, nakakabalik siya, at ang confidence level niya, okay na ulit,” said Reyes.
“Sabi ko nga kanina bago kami mag-start, very uncharacteristic, best blocker ka, wala kang naba-block. Very uncharacteristic kasi first time mo maging one point, two sets or three sets ka naglalaro,” he added.
Meneses said she drew motivation from the criticism.
“Parang mix na parang pinu-push na parang nada-down (ako) pero mas tinake ko siya na mas nakaka-boost siya kasi malaki ang tiwala sa akin ng coach ko,” she said.
When she finally got going, the native of Malolos, Bulacan was glad to be back enjoying the game.
“‘Di ko napansin kasi nagi-enjoy kami kanina eh. ‘Di ko rin pinapansin ang sariling puntos ko lang, ang lagi naming iniisip ang score ng buong team,” she said.