ANTIPOLO CITY — Jovelyn Gonzaga was in tears after delivering the clutch hits for Pacifictown-Army that sealed its bronze medal finish in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference.
The reason? Gonzaga really wanted to win the bronze medal for the Lady Troopers to give back to her mother club team, where she made a return after a two-year layoff due to ACL injury.
“Kasi diba kakabalik ko lang sa laro. Sobrang support ang Army sa'kin and at the same time ang tagal na naming hindi naglalaro,” said Gonzaga, who was still emotional in the post-game press conference. “So hangga’t maaari, this time, di ako papayag na di kami mapasama, manalo sa third spot.”
“Gusto ko talagang mag give back sa Army sa pagpayag sa akin at pag intindi sa case ko,” she added.
Down 6-10 in the fifth set, Gonzaga sparked the comeback and delivered the game-winning service ace as Pacifictown-Army beat BanKo, 18-25, 25-16, 20-25, 25-15, 15-13, on Sunday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.
As she nailed the ace that rewarded her team a decent bronze medal finish, the former national team star rolled on the floor and started crying as she felt the fulfillment of Army’s return to the league of Sports Vision after four years.
“Noong time na yun ang mentality ko lang talaga is I’ll give my best na para makatulong at maipanalo yung laban,” Gonzaga said. “Sobrang sarap sa feeling kasi ang mentality ko lang sa loob ng court, though hindi ako naseset-an lagi, is kung saan ako makakapagstep up para makatulong sa team.”
Gonzaga, who decided to focus on floor defense, blocking and service in her post-injury comeback, admitted that she is still far from her top form as one of the best opposite spikers in the country.
“Hindi ko pa talaga nababalik yung dapat kong ilalaro. Ang ginagawa ko lang talaga tutulong ako sa team through defense, blocking and receive,” she said. “Kasi yung attack ko aminado naman ako na di pa talaga babalik. Kumbaga ang mindset ko lang talaga all through out is makatulong sa team.”
But she is not rushing her way to get back on her top form despite playing for both Army in the PVL and Cignal in the Philippine Superliga.
The Army personnel and spiker is just happy that the Lady Troopers still have the passion and their character in the game despite the retirement of Tina Salak and Michelle Mayette Carolino.
“Actually natutuwa ako kasi andun pa rin yung puso ng army Lady Troopers. May mga nawala na like tina salak, carolino sisters, ang laking kawalan sa team pero natutuwa ako kasi andun pa rin yung kapit na sinasabi nila,” she said.
That’s why for Gonzaga, expect a better finish from the Lady Troopers in the Open Conference next month as all teams will be playing All-Filipino.
“Naniniwala ako kasi sa nilalaro ng locals nakikita mo naman na kahit sinong ipasok nagsstep up talaga,” said Gonzaga. “Very positive ako sa magiging outcome syempre pagtatrabahuhan talaga namin yun.”