SETTER Ayel Estrañero stepped up when it mattered most and provided the clutch service aces to help University of the Philippines in completing another amazing comeback against Far Eastern University and earning its first major volleyball title in 36 years in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference.
The Lady Maroons were on the brink of losing Game 2 after the Lady Tamaraws fought their way back from a two-set deficit and mounted a 13-7 lead in the fifth set.
But UP never wavered, especially Estrañero, who served from the line with nerves of steel, nailing three of her four aces to help the Lady Maroons prevail in an epic Game Two match against the Lady Tamaraws with a 25-20, 25-18, 23-25, 20-25, 15-13 win that finally delivered the school’s first major volleyball title since UAAP 1982 season.
“When I was serving, I was just praying, and I just actually believed that the team can actually win despite na sobrang haba ng hinabol namin,” the graduating playmaker said. “Kahit ang layo ng score namin but then nafeel namin sa loob na hindi pa kami talaga susuko, that everyone is still willing to fight.”
“So yun nung nagserve ako hindi ako kinakabahan as in I just really want to win for the team and for everyone,” she added.
And when she nailed the title-clinching service ace, Estrañero couldn’t hold her emotions and rolled on the floor after finally ending the school’s championship drought that lasted almost four decades.
“Siyempre gulat ako kasi I mean like hindi ko naman totally alam ano mangyayari sa bola pag release ko,” Estrañero said. “But when I saw the ball drop and touch the floor, it was just so overwhelming, I’m just so happy na we fought until the end at least yung pinaglaban namin worth it naman even from the last game na hinabol namin.”
Estrañero and Molde scored six of the last eight points in the fifth-set comeback of the Lady Maroons. But the setter attributed it to the team’s collective effort and willingness to win.
“Nung nagsimula pa lang ‘yung fifth set we talked na how much do we want to win. And in order for us to actually get the championship title kailangan namin gustuhin lahat kami hindi pwedeng kami lang tapos sabi namin gugustuhin natin ‘to that’s why everyone actually never gave up until the end,” said Estreñero, who had 28 excellent sets on top of six points coming from four aces in Game 2.
“Kita naman e, di kami makakapalo talaga kung walang dumepensa or di ako makaset ng walang dumepensa. So until the end it was still a collective effort from everyone from the coaches and the players even those in the bench,” she added. “So yun pero siyempre andun din yung conscious effort na gugustuhin mo talaga and you’ll do whatever it takes.”