THE wait was worth it as far as Jhoana Maraguinot is concerned.
Red shirted for two years, Maraguinot showed her real worth on Wednesday when she delivered the winning points in Ateneo’s 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 27-25 win over nemesis La Salle that earned the defending champion a return trip to the finals of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
With pressure mounting before a crowd of 13,000 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena with the fourth set tied at 25, Maraguinot calmly hit back-to-back spikes to clinch the dramatic win for the Lady Eagles, who now have a thrice-to-beat advantage in the title series following their 14-game sweep of the eliminations.
“Sinabi ko na lang sa sarili ko relax lang,” the rookie told a handful of sportswriters after the match.
“Kasi nara-rattle na lahat. Kahit ako kabado na pero sabi ko nga sa sarili ko relax lang, kasi sabi ni coach Tai (Bundit) meditation lang para magawa namin ang kailangan naming gawin.”
Playing for the first time in the UAAP after spending two years with the Ateneo Team B, Maraguinot showed no signs of rookie jitters, which readily earned her the respect of no less than team captain Alyssa Valdez.
“Si Jo, grabe, clutch talaga ‘yan,” said Valdez. “Even sa training pag pumapalo siya napapatanong na lang kami sa kanya, sabi namin, 'Wow, Jo, paano mo nagawa ‘yun?'”
But Valdez was not actually surprised to see how Maraguinot deliver during the most crucial time of the game, since it was something expected out of the 19-year old spiker.
“First time niya maglaro sa UAAP pero ganoon na kalakas ang loob niya,” said Valdez.
Maraguinot came off the bench and contributed 10 points, all from spikes, including the game-clinchers.