ATENEO found an unlikely hero as Jia Morado saved the day for the Lady Eagles against Perpetual Help while barely recovered from fever that sidelined her for three days.
Lady Eagles assistant coach Parley Tupaz was left in awe of Morado after the incoming fourth-year setter had 25 of the team’s 35 excellent sets and took on the leadership role inside the court despite being under the weather.
What surprised Tupaz the most was Morado's willingness to respond to coach Tai Bundit’s call even as she was not supposed to play heavy minutes.
She ended up finishing the match to help the Lady Eagles nab their first win, 27-25, 25-13, 25-16, in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference at the PhilSports Arena on Monday.
“Iba talaga si Jia. Pinilit lang ni (Coach Tai) si Jia kasi may sakit si Jia,” said Tupaz. “Eh kailangan eh nag-step up naman.”
“Kanina hindi na dapat pinapabihis (ng playing uniform) ‘yun eh, kasi si Deanna (Wong) nandyan na rin pero iba pa rin si Jia,” he added.
Jamie Lavitoria, who played libero in UAAP Season 78, started in her natural position as setter. But she was replaced in the first set by Wong, before Bundit went with Morado to put an end to their sluggish start.
“Kasi noong una, first six niya si Lavitoria, ano lang medyo hindi rin nasanay si Lavitoria na binalik ulit sa setter eh kaya ‘yun si Jia pa rin (ang ginamit),” said Tupaz, who admitted that Morado’s experience was crucial for the team.
“Pero iba rin si Jia talaga, syempre si Jia matagal na sa mga ano (teammates niya) super experienced na siya, eh ‘yung dalawa wala pang experience ‘yun,” he added.