UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas' newly appointed team skipper EJ Laure was quick to shrug off the pressure and the high expectations as she leads a Tigresses side looking to end a three-year absence from the Final Four of the UAAP women's volleyball tournament.
UST coach Kungfu Reyes bestowed the honor on the talented sophomore spiker after veteran leader Pam Lastimosa was ruled out of the season with an ACL injury - a development that surprised Laure.
“Na-shock din ako noong sinabi sa akin (pero) gumaan ang feeling ko kasi ‘di ko akalain na ako ang pipiliin nina coach,” last year’s Rookie of the Year told Spin.ph on Saturday during the VOLLEY FRIENDS' Volleyball Season Kick-Off at Buffalo Wild Wings in Capitol Commons.
Although it will be her first time as Tigresses team captain, the position is no longer new for the eldest daughter of PBA veteran Eddie Laure, having backstopped the UST girls’ volleyball team to a UAAP championship in her final year in high school in Season 76.
“Mayroong pressure pero hindi ko gaanong nafi-feel,” she said. “Kasi ewan ko, used (to it) na ako (sa pagiging leader). Kasi parang last year lang ako nag lay low, kasi ‘di ba noong fourth year (high school) ako nag-captain ako so parang nandoon pa rin ang sense sa akin ng pagiging captain.”
The soft-spoken spiker also dismissed the high expectations, saying it will still be a team effort for a Tigresses side that finished in fifth place last season.
Laure is expecting a lot of support from graduating players Mela Tunay and Jessey de Leon, third year middle blocker Ria Meneses and sophomore Cherry Rondina along with Rica Rivera, Chloe Cortez, Alex Cabanos, Ingrid Reyes.
UST has four rookies: Mia Dizon from La Salle Zobel, Carla Sandoval from Angelicum College, Alyssa Teope from UST high school and Alina Bicar from Tacloban.
“Nakaka-pressure ng konti pero hine-help naman ako ng teammates ko na mawala ang pressure sa akin,” said Laure.